Weber de Morais, Gabriela, Schlüter, Achim ORCID: and Verweij, Marco (2015) Can institutional change theories contribute to the understanding of marine protected areas?. Global Environmental Change, 31 . pp. 154-162. DOI

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The debate about the governance aspects of marine protected areas has increased considerably over the last few years. Growing pressure on coastal and marine resources, international conservation targets set for 2020, and the persistence of ‘paper parks’ (i.e. only nominally declared) are some of the main reasons behind this trend. Based on the assumption that the prevalence of paper parks is associated with shortcomings in their institutional design, this article explores how institutional change theories, mainly from historical institutionalism, could add to the understanding of marine protected area governance. First, mechanisms leading to either stability or change of institutions are reviewed. Then, examples from existing literature are used to illustrate how these mechanisms might be preventing or enhancing the progress of marine protected areas. The focus is on developing countries where poorly functioning marine protected areas seem to be the norm rather than the exception. The analysis reveals that institutional change theories can be a helpful analytical tool to examine how institutions encompassing well-known challenges of marine protected areas, such as terrestrial conservation poorly adapted to marine ecosystems, imported conservation paradigms not fitting local realities, and difficulties posed by an incoherence of policies and top-down approaches to management, have developed over time. Conditions leading actors to notice these problems and take action to solve them as well as how they go about implementing changes are also explored. Finally, it is suggested that the issues raised here regarding the persistence of problems and how they are being tackled, especially those concerning the political process, can be beneficial to other fields of environmental governance.

Document Type: Article
Programme Area: UNSPECIFIED
Research affiliation: Social Sciences > Institutional and Behavioural Economics
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
ISSN: 09593780
Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2019 15:34
Last Modified: 26 Mar 2024 13:29

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