Flow-based governance of telecoupled land systems

Authors: Darla Munroe*, Ohio State University
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Economic Geography, Land Use and Land Cover Change
Keywords: telecoupling, governance, flows, land systems
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Coolidge, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The land-system science community has been working over the past decade to understand how significant environmental change in one location is often the result of connections among distal actors, institutions and markets. Deemed “teleconnections (Seto et al. 2012),” or “telecoupling (Liu et al. 2013),” such social-environmental interactions across great distance pose significant challenges for linking causes and effects. Therefore, defining and measuring sustainability, let alone implementing effective policy, is complicated and requires careful analysis. This paper takes stock of key empirical and theoretical research that engages with the concept of telecouping. Expanding on the points made in Sikor et al.’s (2013) work on “flow-based governance,” we redefine governance holistically, including how resources are extracted, transformed into commodities, transported to markets and consumers, and ultimately, social-environmental costs and benefits are distributed throughout this whole system. Therefore, governance of land systems is emergent, multiscale, multisite, and involving actors from land users to firms to government and nongovernmental organizations. We conclude with a summary of research priorities to address the governance challenges, including non-land system components, data gaps and greater transdisciplinary engagement.

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