Private Authority and Public Policy in the Global South: decentralization, delegation and securitization in governance spheres of conservation

Authors: Stefano Ponte*, Copenhagen Business School
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Environment, Development
Keywords: Conservation, sustainability, private authority, governance, global south
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Roosevelt 3, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The changing shape of sustainability governance has been a key academic and policy concern in the past two decades, as part of a wider debate on the putative advance and limitations of private authority in governing economy, society and the environment. In this article, we contribute to these debates by examining the interactions between private and public authority in governance spheres of conservation in the Global South – where decentralization, delegation and securitization processes are often taking place at the same time. We compare the functional quality and effectiveness of natural resource governance initiatives in forestry, wildlife and coastal resources in Tanzania, within a larger governance sphere that includes formal policy frameworks, various organizational setups and informal dynamics of securitization. We find that clear division of responsibilities, coupled with material incentives for communities and equal and transparent distribution of benefits, are key factors for ensuring the functional quality of conservation initiatives. We also show that through securitization processes, central government is re-asserting its authority, at the same time as it is formally adhering to parallel discourses and practices of decentralization, multi-stakeholding and local participation. This suggests that public-private interactions in sustainability initiatives should be understood in the context of the wider governance sphere where struggles for access to resources take place. It also means that sustainability problem-solving needs to be designed with a Janus-faced public authority in mind.

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