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Participation and Legitimacy: Actor Involvement for Nature Conservation
Södertörn University, School of Natural Sciences, Technology and Environmental Studies, Environmental Science. Södertörn University, Centre for Baltic and East European Studies (CBEES), Baltic & East European Graduate School (BEEGS).ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9614-5877
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This PhD thesis in environmental science aims to contribute to the theoretical and empirical understanding of the relation between participation and legitimacy in multi-level environmental governance.

It is widely assumed that actor involvement has great potential to improve the legitimacy of nature conservation through long-term acceptance and target achievement. However, local resource conflicts problematize the way a relation between participation and legitimacy is depicted on other administrative levels. Studies exploring the effect that participation has on legitimacy are relatively rare, especially in multi-level arrangements of coastal conservation.

In this thesis the relation between participation and legitimacy on the local level is examined, as well as how this relation is conditioned by multi-level governance and power. The relation is empirical studied with two local implementation processes of the Helsinki Convention’s network of marine protected areas (HELCOM MPAs). The cases are located in Sweden.

Sweden and the Baltic Sea region are in the forefront of participation in nature conservation, and therefore act as a strong case for the exploration of institutional participation. However, despite apparent political will and international support, the efficiency of actor involvement for nature conservation has been questioned, also for the HELCOM MPA and especially on the local level.

Based on the results of this study, I question the assumption that weak legitimacy predominantly is an issue of insufficient information sharing. The findings show that involving actors to legitimize the adoption of strict adherence to a pre-established model of conservation likely fails to create long term support for conservation. Instead, relocation of power to the affected actors seems essential in order to make participation establish legitimacy. It appears important to create room for local influence in the design, management and implementation of a particular conservation area in the particular place/context. In both examined cases, there are elements of participation that support legitimacy, for example the development of a shared vision. There are also elements that hamper legitimacy, such as, for example, the high expectations different actors have on participation to reach consensus on protective values. These unmet expectations seem to fuel conflicts of interests among actors on different levels.

Abstract [sv]

Världens hav är i kris. Med ett stort internationellt tryck för att skydda dem har den svenska regeringen satt ambitiösa mål för etablering av marina reservat. Beslutsfattare och forskare har höga förväntningar på att lokalt deltagande underlättar etableringen. Men utan verkliga möjligheter för lokalt deltagande att påverka besluten så verkar förväntningarna orealistiska, med allvarliga konsekvenser för legitimitet av miljöskydd.

Avhandlingen undersöker relationen mellan deltagande och legitimitet i svensk östersjöförvaltning genom att studera samrådsprocesserna för Gräsö marina naturreservat och St Anna-Missjö marina skyddsområde. Studien visar på både positiva och negativa samband mellan deltagande och legitimitet, beroende på kvalitén av deltagande.

Olika lokala aktörer är djupt engagerade i resursfrågor och vill ha möjlighet att diskutera dessa med staten. Lokala aktörer uttrycker besvikelse och frustration om samråden har en begränsad inverkan på faktiska beslut. Besvikelsen kan underminera stödet för naturskydd och försämra relationen mellan stat och lokala aktörer i längden.

I ett av de undersökta fallen var de lokala aktörerna engagerade i att formulera en gemensam vision för området tillsammans med myndigheterna, något som annars är ovanligt. Det visade sig ha en mycket positiv effekt på samrådsprocessen och legitimiteten av naturskyddet.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Huddinge: Södertörns högskola, 2017. , 284 p.
Series
Södertörn Doctoral Dissertations, ISSN 1652-7399 ; 128
Keyword [en]
Participation, legitimacy, multi-level, governance, actor involvement, marine protected areas, coastal management, public consultation, locals, nature resource conflict, public-private relations, HELCOM, Baltic Sea, Sweden
Keyword [sv]
Deltagande, samråd, naturvård, miljöskydd, samhällsstyrning, länsstyrelse, naturreservat, marin förvaltning
National Category
Environmental Sciences Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Environmental Studies; Baltic and East European studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-31809ISBN: 978-91-87843-74-7 (print)ISBN: 978-91-87843-75-4 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-31809DiVA: diva2:1067427
Public defence
2017-02-24, MA624, Alfred Nobels Allé 7, Huddinge, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies
Available from: 2017-01-30 Created: 2017-01-23 Last updated: 2017-05-16Bibliographically approved

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