Situating Adaptive Environmental Governance: Non-governmental Actors in the Protection of Nanjing’s Qinhuai River

Title: Situating Adaptive Environmental Governance: Non-governmental Actors in the Protection of Nanjing’s Qinhuai River
Authors: Matthew, Gaudreau
Date: 2013
Abstract: Studies of adaptive governance in social-ecological systems have identified common features that assist social actors in responding to environmental pressures. Among these features, multiple sources of ecological knowledge, trust, and networks between actors have been highlighted as properties that contribute to successful governance arrangements. However, studies in adaptive governance have also been critiqued using a political ecology approach. This is due to their under-theorization of political elements that can constrain or promote the formation of the features of adaptive governance. In particular, power dynamics between actors and the subsequent privileging of one source of knowledge over another might have an effect on governance arrangements. In China, environmental degradation is a serious issue. The Qinhuai River, located in the city of Nanjing, has experienced significant ecological decline over the last 30 years as urbanization pressures on the system increased. Over the same period, China has undergone changes in state-society relations, including allowing the formation of NGOs. Since the turn of the millennium, several NGOs have begun working on issues related to the Qinhuai River, including raising awareness and producing information on the environment. This study examines the features of adaptive governance in a critical light by situating them in the local political context of China. The relationship between NGOs, fishers who use the Qinhuai River and government are examined using Social Network Analysis and semi-structured interviews in order to understand the production of information, networking and trust between these actors. It is shown that the existing arrangements to include NGOs and fishers in the river’s governance activities are guided by a corporatist system of state-sanctioned representation. This is not conducive to adaptive governance arrangements, despite the increasing existence of ENGO networks and new sources of knowledge over the last decade. It is thus important that studies of adaptive governance take steps to contextualize their findings within the local political climate.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -