One strategy to address threats to biodiversity in the face of ongoing budget constraints is to create an enabling environment that facilitates individuals, communities and other groups to self-organise to achieve conservation outcomes. Emergence (new activities and initiatives), and robustness (durability of these activities and initiatives over time), two related concepts from the common pool resources literature, provide guidance on how to support and enable such self-organised action for conservation. To date emergence has received little attention in the literature. Our exploratory synthesis of the conditions for emergence from the literature highlighted four themes: for conservation to emerge, actors need to 1) recognise the need for change, 2) expect positive outcomes, 3) be able to experiment to achieve collective learning, and 4) have legitimate local scale governance authority. Insights from the literature on emergence and robustness suggest that an appropriate balance should be maintained between external guidance of conservation and enabling local actors to find solutions appropriate to their contexts. We illustrate the conditions for emergence, and its interaction with robustness, through discussing the Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE) in Zimbabwe and reflect on efforts at strengthening local autonomy and management around the world. We suggest that the delicate balance between external guidance of actions, and supporting local actors to develop their own solutions, should be managed adaptively over time to support the emergence of robust conservation actions.
We empirically examine relationships among the conditions that enable learning, learning effects and sustainability outcomes based on experiences in four biosphere reserves in Canada and Sweden. In doing so, we provide a novel approach to measure learning and address an important methodological and empirical challenge in assessments of learning processes in decision-making contexts. Findings from this study highlight the effectiveness of different measures of learning, and how to differentiate the factors that foster learning with the outcomes of learning. Our approach provides a useful reference point for future empirical studies of learning in different environment, resource and sustainability settings.
Around the world, many coastal communities and small-scale fishers have proven effective as stewards of their local marine environments and resources. Given these considerable successes, this chapter assesses opportunities to increase the focus in ocean conservation practice and policy on initiatives at the local level of coastal communities and small-scale fishers. The chapter reviews the historical evolution of ocean conservation, with a focus on fundamental shifts to more holistic approaches of ecosystem-based and integrated management, and to a greater focus on participatory governance. These major shifts reinforce the role in ocean conservation of local-level coastal communities and small-scale fishers.