The Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies

Ecosystems as common-pool resources – Implications for building sustainable water management institutions in the Baltic Sea Region

Field: Miljövetenskap
Project leader: Monica Hammer
Starting year: 2008

In this project, we focus on governance of water resources and related ecosystem services in the Baltic Sea Region. The ongoing process of implementing the EU Water Framework Directive, adopted in 2000,is a core case study. To sustainably govern such complex, dynamic social-ecological systems in the face of uncertainty and change, the ecosystem approach as a holistic and integrated management framework of land and water resources is increasingly recognized, internationally for example in the UN Convention of Biodiversity Conservation (CBD) as well as in Sweden. Present management regimes are in many cases not ecologically consistent with the resources they are supposed to manage creating a mismatch between the social and ecological system. Also, it can be argued that some of the challenges relating to mismatches do not always have so much to do with spatial scale as with the “scale” of management response and change. The new demands on institutional arrangements by the EU Water Framework Directive, as well as of changing ecosystems due to e.g. climate change could be viewed as a reorganization phase that implies an increased need for adaptive capacity and transformability.

The overall aim of the project is to contribute to an improved understanding of the feedbacks between ecosystems and society for sustainable governance using an ecosystem approach perspective with particular focus on the following aspects: ·Appropriation of scales (in particular, cross-scale and multi- level governance issues) ·The role of stakeholder participation and local ecological knowledge (LEK) ·The capacity to adapt and transform in the phase of change in ecosystems and society.

The project is multidisciplinary combining methods and theoretical ideas from natural resources management, planning, physical geography, ecology, and economics. This project is organized as a set of partly comparative case studies in two sub-projects, but a core idea in this project is that the participants work in an integrated manner as far as appropriate. Geographically, we will focus on the Northern Baltic Sea Water district and ca two selected sub-basins in Sweden, and similar catchment areas in Norway, Estonia and Latvia.