Does business as usual still make politics as usual? Prospects for sustainably managing freshwater resources as a CPR in Canterbury, New Zealand
|P.A. Memon, |
|This paper will focus on environmental conflicts over the management of complex common pool resources (CPRs) such as water. It proceeds from our previous work on complex, multiple-use CPRs in developed industrial societies (e.g., Selsky & Memon 1995, 2000; Memon & Selsky 2004). Such CPRs have special properties that align with those of ‘wicked problems’ and can stimulate deep-seated conflicts among competing stakeholders (see Verweij & Thompson 2006). We will argue that conventional ways of interpreting and managing such conflicts in industrial societies do not recognise sufficiently the special properties of CPRs. For instance, there are often overt or latent assumptions of uncontested, individually secured rights to resources. The conventional conflict resolution strategies seem to create and perpetuate a condition of ‘business as usual makes politics as usual’. That is, powerful business-sector stakeholders do as they want, and public-sector and civil-society stakeholders are caught in the normal pluralistic game of conflicting and incompatible interests and weak attempts at regulation. This condition narrows the margin of change for improving the management of CPRs on a sustainable basis. |
We will build theory in this area from a large-scale,
In this paper we revisit this case based on more recent data to 2005. We pose the questions: Has the implementation gap we earlier identified persisted? That is, in what ways has the policy intent of the Act to manage freshwater resources as CPRs been executed and/or subverted in the
In the discussion section we will employ commons concepts to sketch some possible mindsets, strategies and techniques that may be capable of moving complex CPR stakeholder systems beyond the business-as-usual condition to a more sustainable condition in which ecosystem stewardship becomes more feasible. This might happen in two ways. First, they might help stakeholders to transcend adversarial encounters based on private property rights. Insights about possible new forms of conflict management and resolution that are suitable for complex CPR situations will be drawn from the literatures on deliberative democracy (e.g., Eckersley 2000; O’Riordan & Stoll-Kleeman 2002; Dryzek 2000; Habermas), novel rights assertions in multiple-use commons (e.g., Selsky & Memon 2000), wicked problems and public participation in ‘messy’ natural resource arenas (e.g., McCool & Guthrie 2001; Brueckner 2003). Second, they might help stimulate new action-oriented platforms for sustainable ecosystem management. Insights here will be drawn from literature on public-issue stakeholder management (e.g., Gray 1989), institutional renewal and entrepreneurship (e.g., Lawrence, Hardy & Phillips 2002; Cohen 2005), platforms in multiple-use commons (e.g., Steins & Edwards 1999) and the interface of natural and social systems (e.g., Berkes & Folke 1998).
In the conclusion we will make observations on larger questions opened up by the case study: The policy intent of the Resource Management Act was to create a freshwater commons, but this intent has been undermined by the business-as-usual condition. Will it always be so? Can commons ever survive, or take root, in institutional deserts of private property supported by state institutions? Can we envision any realistic scenarios for transcending the business-as-usual condition in the
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