Schwenke, Theresa, Herbst Gerhardinger, Dannieli, Cavaleri Gerhardinger, Leopoldo and Glaser, Marion (2018) Self-organizing transformations: A social-ecological network reaction to an oil spill in Babitonga Bay, Santa Catarina. [Talk] In: 2018 Utrecht Conference on Earth System Governance. , 5 - 8 November 2018, Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands .

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In the Anthropocene, social-ecological systems (SES) are prone to face interlinked crises such as ecosystem degradation, pollution and sudden shifts in political or economic structures and processes. A thorough analysis of complex SES relations and associated environmental governance regimes is needed for the development of strategies to cope with such challenges and effectively using crisis as opportunity to leverage transformations to sustainability. One important knowledge need relates to the way actors that share challenges or resources link to each other. Social network analysis (SNA) is a well–known tool to investigate links between actors, but how those links change in response to sudden shocks (crises and opportunities), the dynamics they underlie, and how these dynamics influence environmental governance and management outcomes has been rarely examined so far. Social ecological network analysis (SENA), an evolving tool for SES analysis has its roots in SNA. In this paper SEN dynamics in the aftermath of an oil spill (2008) in Babitonga Bay (Santa Catarina state, Brazil), and subsequent opportunities and transformative actions taken are described. The company that caused the accident was fined over the harm it had done to the aquatic ecosystem of the bay and bordering coastline. Novel institutions were crafted to foster sustainability projects (n>5) in six coastal cities following a public call process and implementation-phase oversighted by the Federal Public Ministry and Federal Court of Justice. We report on the outcomes by one of such projects, Babitonga Ativa (, which deliberately acted as a network facilitator organization and, according to our current hypothesis, has been able to tip the governing system from a largely fragmented towards a hazy-to-transparent (release to reorganization to exploitation) regime according to transformative agency theory. This project ran from 2015 until 2018 and facilitated the emergence of a social movement of stakeholders. One major project outcome was the self-organization and lively endurance in the operation of a novel collaborative problem-solving platform (Pro-Babitonga Group). Here we discuss in which way certain network changes led or will likely lead to specific governance and management outcomes. We conclude with some reflections about the social energy, which fueled a joint momentum in Babitonga Bay, since arguably this was and is a crucial driver of the implementation, investigation and development of the social ecological network and the local environmental governance.

Document Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Talk)
Programme Area (enter as: PA1/PA2/PA3/PA4/PA5): PA2
Research affiliation: Social Sciences > Social-Ecological Systems Analysis
Affiliations > Not ZMT
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2020 16:22
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2020 13:01

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