Sustainability transformations: socio-political shocks as opportunities for governance transitions
Faced with accelerating environmental challenges, research on social-ecological systems is increasingly focused on the need for transformative change towards sustainable stewardship of natural resources. This paper analyses the potential of rapid, large-scale socio-political change as a window of opportunity for transformative change of natural resources governance. We hypothesize that shocks at higher levels of social organization may open up opportunities for transformation of social-ecological systems into new pathways of development. However, opportunities need to be carefully navigated otherwise transformations may stall or lead the social-ecological system in undesirable directions.
We investigate (i) under which circumstances socio-political change has been used by actors as a window of opportunity for initiating transformation towards sustainable natural resource governance, (ii) how the different levels of the systems (landscape, regime and niche) interact to pave the way for initiating such transformations and (iii) which key features (cognitive, structural and agency-related) get mobilized for transformation. This is achieved through analyzing natural resource governance regimes of countries that have been subject to rapid, large-scale political change: water governance in South Africa and Uzbekistan and governance of coastal fisheries in Chile. In South Africa the political and economic change of the end of the apartheid regime resulted in a transformation of the water governance regime while in Uzbekistan after the breakdown of the Soviet Union change both at the economic and political scales and within the water governance regime remained superficial. In Chile the democratization process after the Pinochet era was used to transform the governance of coastal fisheries.
The paper concludes with important insight on key capacities needed to navigate transformation towards biosphere stewardship. The study also contributes to a more nuanced view on the relationship between collapse and renewal.
Research news | 2021-10-16
Centre receives substantial research funding on sustainable food production
IKEA Foundation grants 30 million SEK for continued research on more sustainable and just food systems. Gullspång Invest and its subsidiary Gullspång Re:food contribute additional 5 million SEK
Research news | 2021-10-16
Beatrice Crona appointed professor in sustainability science
Deputy science director selected for newly established professorship in sustainability science with focus on sustainable food systems
Research news | 2021-10-11
Low exposure to green areas may lead to higher rates of COVID-19 cases
New analysis links COVID-19 to nature inequity, showing communities of color face starkest burden
Research news | 2021-10-04
How cities play a crucial role in the transition to a carbon-free world
In connection with World Habitat Day, centre experts explain why cities are at the centre of planetary efforts to reduce our carbon footprint
Educational news | 2021-09-30
New MOOC on how to deal with the climate crisis
Learn how to drive the social change that is fundamentally required for an effective response to climate change
Research news | 2021-09-29
Ready for anything
Centre theme leader Cibele Queiroz explains why diversity is important in turbulent times