Assessing the adaptive capacity of multi-level water governance: ecosystem services under climate change in Mälardalen region, Sweden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Adaptive and multi-level governance is often called for in order to improve the management of complex issues such as the provision of natural resources and ecosystem services. In this case study, we analyse the contemporary multi-level governance system that manages water resources and its ecosystem services in a fresh water lake in Sweden. We assess the relative importance and barriers of three commonly highlighted components of adaptive governance: “feeding ecological knowledge into the governance system”, “use of ecological knowledge to continuously adapt the governance system”, and “self-organisation by flexible institutions acting across multiple levels”. Findings reveal that the trickiest aspect of adaptive governance capacity to institutionalise is the iterative nature of feedbacks and learning over time, and that barriers to the spread of knowledge on social-ecological complexity through the governance systems are partly political, partly complexity itself, and partly a more easily resolved lack of coordination. We call for caution in trusting crisis management to build more long-lasting adaptive capacity, and we conclude that a process of institutionalising adaptive capacity is inherently contingent on political process putting issues on the agenda.

Details

Authors
Organisations
External organisations
  • Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI)
  • Stockholm University
  • KTH Royal Institute of Technology
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Environmental Management

Keywords

  • Adaptive capacity, Ecological knowledge, Ecosystem services, Management, Multi-level governance, Watershed
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2359-2371
JournalRegional Environmental Change
Volume17
Issue number8
Early online date2017 May 17
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Dec
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes