Private governance of ocean resources

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Abstract

The United Nations (UN) post-2015 development agenda (United Nations 2015) calls for the establishment of a global partnership for sustainable development, ‘bringing together Governments, civil society, the private sector, the United Nations system and other actors and mobilizing all available resources’ (Art. 39). The agenda thereby explicitly acknowledges that in addition to governments, private companies and civil society have a pivotal role to play in attaining the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The natural resource economics literature has traditionally applied a strict dichotomy between public actors (that is, governments) and private institutions, notably markets: markets take care of the allocation of private goods and services, while governments uphold the legal framework within which markets operate and correct market failures such as public goods, monopolies, and limited excludability of natural resources (see, for example, Perman et al. 2011; Tietenberg and Lewis 2012). The task of managing ocean resources has thus in recent history fallen squarely on the shoulders of the nation state. However, we have seen for complex systems, such as fisheries and marine ecosystems, that this dichotomy does not always hold (Ostrom 2010). Rather, the work of Ostrom and others (for example, Folke et al. 2005; Galaz et al. 2012) points to what is referred to as polycentric governance, where private and community institutional structures, sometimes integrated with and sometimes separate from the state, are offering new solutions to global governance challenges. These developments are blurring the strict separation of responsibilities between states, companies and, to an increasing extent, civil society.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook on the Economics and Management of Sustainable Oceans
EditorsPaulo A.L.D. Nunes, Lisa E. Svensson, Anil Markandya
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Pages416-428
ISBN (Print)9781786430717
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2017

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