The Princeton Guide to Ecology

By Simon A. Levin | Go to book overview

VII.10
Governance and Institutions
Elinor Ostrom
OUTLINE
1. The diversity of social-ecological systems
2. Common-pool resources
3. The conventional theory of common-pool resources
4. Self-organized resource governance systems in the field
5. Attributes of a resource and resource users that increase the likelihood of self-organization
6. Types of ownership used in self-organized field settings
7. The importance of larger governance regimes
8. The advantages of polycentric resource governance systems
Governance is a multilevel process established by humans to craft institutions—rules—that affect who can do what in relation to specific aspects of a linked social–ecological system (SES), who will monitor conformance to these rules, and how these rules may be modified over time in light of feedback from the SES itself and from those involved in its use, management, and conservation. Governance processes may be undertaken by governments (which are one type of organization) as well as by organizations of all types.
GLOSSARY
common-pool resource. A resource system in which it is costly to exclude potential beneficiaries, but one person’s use subtracts resource units from those available to othersgovernance. The process of crafting institutional rules to fit diverse settingsinstitutional rules. Rules defining rights and responsibilities of participants in a repeated settingpolycentric systems. A governance system in which citizens are able to organize multiple governing authorities at differing scalessocial–ecological system. An ecological system and a linked social system of resource users and their governance arrangements (if present)
1. THE DIVERSITY OF SOCIAL–ECOLOGICAL
SYSTEMS
Readers of this Princeton Guide to Ecology will be well informed about the immense diversity of ecological systems. Ecological systems vary in regard to their geographic range, density of specific plant and animal populations, patterns of species diversity, nutrient cycling, landscape dynamics, and disturbance patterns— to name just a few of the subjects included in the sections of this Guide. Ecological systems are complex systems with interactions occurring at multiple spatial and temporal scales.In addition to the diversity of ecological systems considered independent of human interactions, the variety of linked social–ecological systems (SESs) that exist in the world is even larger. The “social” side varies in regard to the size and socioeconomic attributes of users, the history of their use, the location of their residences and their work places, the types of leadership and entrepreneurship experienced, the cultural norms they share, the level of human and social capital they have, their knowledge about the ecological system, their dependence on the system for diverse purposes, and the technologies available to them, to name just a few of the most important general characteristics.Relevant organizations include families, private for-profit and not-for-profit firms, neighborhood groups, and communities living in or near to an ecological system. The rules crafted in a governance process regulate one or more of the following:
Who is authorized to harvest specific types of resource units from a particular SES and for what mix of purposes?
The timing, quantity, location, and technology of harvesting.

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