Adaptive co-management and the paradox of learning

Adaptive co-management and the paradox of learning Much emphasis has been placed on the importance of learning to support collaborative environmental management and achieve sustainability under conditions of social–ecological change. Yet, on-going struggles to learn from experience and respond to complex social–ecological conditions reflect an emerging paradox. Despite widespread support of learning as a normative goal and process, core concepts, assumptions and approaches to learning have been applied in vague and sometimes uncritical ways. Greater specificity with respect to learning goals, approaches and outcomes is required. In response to this gap, we examine five dimensions of the learning paradox in the context of adaptive co-management, where the learning and linking functions of governance are stressed: (i) definitions of learning; (ii) learning goals and expectations; (iii) mechanisms by which learning takes place; (iv) questions regarding who is involved in the process of learning; and (v) the risks and ethical ambiguities faced by different actors expected to willingly participate in a learning process, whether formal or informal. Lessons from experience with a series of cases from the global North and South illustrate the implications of these dimensions. Resolving the dimensions of this learning paradox will require greater attention to capacity-building, recognition of the role of risk, and consideration of how incentives could be used to encourage learning. Further consideration of the role of power and marginality among groups participating in the learning process is also needed, as is more systematic evaluation to monitor and measure learning outcomes. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Global Environmental Change Elsevier

Adaptive co-management and the paradox of learning

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Publisher
Elsevier
Copyright
Copyright © 2007 Elsevier Ltd
ISSN
0959-3780
D.O.I.
10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2007.07.002
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Much emphasis has been placed on the importance of learning to support collaborative environmental management and achieve sustainability under conditions of social–ecological change. Yet, on-going struggles to learn from experience and respond to complex social–ecological conditions reflect an emerging paradox. Despite widespread support of learning as a normative goal and process, core concepts, assumptions and approaches to learning have been applied in vague and sometimes uncritical ways. Greater specificity with respect to learning goals, approaches and outcomes is required. In response to this gap, we examine five dimensions of the learning paradox in the context of adaptive co-management, where the learning and linking functions of governance are stressed: (i) definitions of learning; (ii) learning goals and expectations; (iii) mechanisms by which learning takes place; (iv) questions regarding who is involved in the process of learning; and (v) the risks and ethical ambiguities faced by different actors expected to willingly participate in a learning process, whether formal or informal. Lessons from experience with a series of cases from the global North and South illustrate the implications of these dimensions. Resolving the dimensions of this learning paradox will require greater attention to capacity-building, recognition of the role of risk, and consideration of how incentives could be used to encourage learning. Further consideration of the role of power and marginality among groups participating in the learning process is also needed, as is more systematic evaluation to monitor and measure learning outcomes.

Journal

Global Environmental ChangeElsevier

Published: Feb 1, 2008

References

  • Enchantment and disenchantment: the role of community in natural resource conservation
    Agrawal, A.; Gibson, C.
  • Conserving biodiversity amid weak institutions
    Barrett, C.; Brandon, K.; Gibson, C.; Gjertsen, H.
  • Navigating Social-Ecological Systems: Building Resilience for Complexity and Change
  • Multi-party collaboration as social learning for interdependence: developing relational knowing for sustainable natural resource management
    Bouwen, R.; Taillieu, T.
  • Co-management: concepts and methodological implications
    Carlsson, L.; Berkes, F.
  • Contours of diversity management and triple loop learning
    Flood, R.L.; Romm, N.R.A.
  • Adaptive governance of social-ecological systems
    Folke, C.; Hahn, T.; Olsson, P.; Norberg, J.
  • A resilience-based framework for evaluating adaptive co-management: linking ecology, economics and society
    Plummer, R.; Armitage, D.

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