Balancing stability and flexibility in adaptive governance: an analysis of tools available in U.S. environmental law
AuthorCraig, Robin Kundis
Garmestani, Ahjond S.
Allen, Craig R.
Arnold, Craig Anthony (Tony)
DeCaro, Daniel A.
Fremier, Alexander K.
AffiliationUniv Arizona, Sch Govt & Publ Policy
MetadataShow full item record
CitationBalancing stability and flexibility in adaptive governance: an analysis of tools available in U.S. environmental law 2017, 22 (2) Ecology and Society
JournalEcology and Society
RightsCopyright © 2017 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Collection InformationThis item from the UA Faculty Publications collection is made available by the University of Arizona with support from the University of Arizona Libraries. If you have questions, please contact us at email@example.com.
AbstractAdaptive governance must work "on the ground," that is, it must operate through structures and procedures that the people it governs perceive to be legitimate and fair, as well as incorporating processes and substantive goals that are effective in allowing social-ecological systems (SESs) to adapt to climate change and other impacts. To address the continuing and accelerating alterations that climate change is bringing to SESs, adaptive governance generally will require more flexibility than prior governance institutions have often allowed. However, to function as good governance, adaptive governance must pay real attention to the problem of how to balance this increased need for flexibility with continuing governance stability so that it can foster adaptation to change without being perceived or experienced as perpetually destabilizing, disruptive, and unfair. Flexibility and stability serve different purposes in governance, and a variety of tools exist to strike different balances between them while still preserving the governance institution's legitimacy among the people governed. After reviewing those purposes and the implications of climate change for environmental governance, we examine psychological insights into the structuring of adaptive governance and the variety of legal tools available to incorporate those insights into adaptive governance regimes. Because the substantive goals of governance systems will differ among specific systems, we do not purport to comment on what the normative or substantive goals of law should be. Instead, we conclude that attention to process and procedure (including participation), as well as increased use of substantive standards (instead of rules), may allow an increased level of substantive flexibility to operate with legitimacy and fairness, providing the requisite levels of psychological, social, and economic stability needed for communities to adapt successfully to the Anthropocene.
NoteOpen Access Journal.
VersionFinal published version
SponsorsNational Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) under National Science Foundation [DBI-1052875]; Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit