How do environmental governance processes shape evaluation of outcomes by stakeholders? A causal pathways approach.

Multi-stakeholder environmental management and governance processes are essential to realize social and ecological outcomes. Participation, collaboration, and learning are emphasized in these processes; to gain insights into how they influence stakeholders’ evaluations of outcomes in relation to management and governance interventions we use a path analysis approach to examine their relationships in individuals in four UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. We confirm a model showing that participation in more activities leads to greater ratings of process, and in turn, better evaluations of outcomes. We show the effects of participation in activities on evaluation of outcomes appear to be driven by learning more than collaboration. Original insights are offered as to how the evaluations of outcomes by stakeholders are shaped by their participation in activities and their experiences in management and governance processes. Understanding stakeholder perceptions about the processes in which they are involved and their evaluation of outcomes is imperative, and influences current and future levels of engagement. As such, the evaluation of outcomes themselves are an important tangible product from initiatives. Our research contributes to a future research agenda aimed at better understanding these pathways and their implications for engagement in stewardship and ultimately social and ecological outcomes, and to developing recommendations for practitioners engaged in environmental management and governance.