Cooperating for sustainable regional marine governance – The case of fisheries and nutrient run-off from agriculture to the Baltic Sea

Field: Miljövetenskap, statsvetenskap
Project leader: Björn Hassler
Starting year: 2013
Project type: Project

This project takes it point of departure in the findings of the recently closed BONUS/Baltic Sea Foundation project RISKGOV – Risk governance of the Baltic Sea. One of the most important outcomes was from that project was that the single most important reason why we have not reached further in terms of restoring Baltic Sea ecosystems to adequate status probably is that insufficient collaboration between sector interests, not the least at regional and EU levels. We have selected the agricultural (nutrient run-off causing eutrophication) and fisheries sectors for a closer analysis of (a) existing patterns of regional collaboration and (b) potentials for improvement in terms of more adequate regional environmental governance. The major reason why have selected these two sectors is that they both pose especially difficult governance challenges, since they involve clear tensions between natural resource
use and environmental protection, institutionally as well as in terms of knowledge claims and
stakeholder interests.
An innovative part of this project is that Elinor Ostrom’s well-known design principles are adapted to the scale of Baltic Sea region. To our knowledge, this has not been done before. Principles of monitoring, appropriation and institutional nesting are used as analytical instruments to explore three domains of trans-sector collaboration; normative, epistemological and managerial cooperation. By analyzing to what extent key regulatory instruments at the regional level in the different sectors have been harmonized, whose and what kind of knowledge that is given privileged knowledge and how these aspects together have influenced recent regional governance outcomes, we will be able to understand where the main problems for successful collaboration reside, and will thus be able to elaborate on
potential improvements. Because we have selected the probably two hardest cases in terms of sector integration, our results will most likely have important policy implications not only for these sectors, but also for others such as chemical pollution, invasive species, pollution from marine transportation and climate change.