Janet Stephenson, director for the Centre for Sustainability at the University of Otago, New Zealand, sees a shift towards more local and community-based marine resource management. But is local and small-scale resource management necessarily better than large-scale, market-based policy instruments?
Stephenson addressed this question, when she recently held a presentation at FNI. She shared insights and examples from New Zealand, where over the last years there has been a significant shift towards more locally governed and community-based fisheries and marine management systems, often related to Maori traditions and Maori communities. These communities have significant hands-on experience and useful knowledge to contribute, Stephenson argues:
- Resource management is fundamentally a value question; it is a question about what is important to us. Should ecosystems be preserved as they are, do they exist to feed us, or do they exist for large corporations to make huge profits from? Indigenous communities, their values and their traditions, can often add a useful dimension to how we design management systems, says Stephenson.
- There may be some resources that are better managed at a large scale using market-based instruments, but other resources are better suited to local management by people who have intergenerational commitments to the place and a direct interest in sustaining the resource for future generations, she adds.
Stephenson is a partner in the research project Designing Knowledge-Based Management Systems for Environmental Governance in Norway, led by FNI's Research Director Kristin Rosendal, which focuses on the relationship between science and policy in environmental management, and investigates how effective and knowledge-based management systems best can be designed.