Human activities on land impact coastal-marine systems in the Lesser Antilles. Efforts to address these impacts are constrained by existing top-down and fragmented governance systems. Network governance may help to address land-sea interactions by promoting improved co-governance and land-sea integration. However, the conditions for, and processes of, transformations towards network governance in the region are poorly understood. We examine network governance emergence in four case studies from the Lesser Antilles: Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Grenada. We find that governance is currently in transition towards a more networked mode within all the cases. Our results suggest that participation in collaborative projects has played an important role in initiating transitions. Additionally, multilateral agreements, boundary-spanning organizations, and experience with extreme events provide enabling conditions for network governance. Successfully navigating the ongoing transitions towards improved network governance will require (1) facilitating the leadership of central actors and core teams in steering towards network governance and (2) finding ways to appropriately engage the latent capacity of communities and non-state actors in governance networks.
Governance across the land–sea interface presents many challenges related to (1) the engagement of diverse actors and systems of knowledge, (2) the coordinated management of shared ecological resources, and (3) the development of mechanisms to address or account for biogeochemical (e.g., nutrient flows) and ecological (e.g., species movements) interdependencies between marine and terrestrial systems. If left unaddressed, these challenges can lead to multiple problems of social-ecological fit stemming from governance fragmentation or inattention to various components of land–sea systems.
Governance across the land-sea interface is an emerging challenge. The propensity for, and intensity of social-ecological interactions across this interface (e.g., eutrophication, sedimentation) are being exacerbated by cross-system threats (e.g., climate change). We draw on a systematic review of 151 peer-reviewed papers on governance and land-sea connections to (1) outline the current state of the literature, (2) examine the predominance of different approaches to address land-sea interactions, (3) characterize how governance is conceptualized within these approaches, (4) investigate governance challenges, and (5) provide insights into effective governance.