CR-SD SYMPOSIUM 2019
University of New England
April 15th - 17th
The Coming Paradigm:
natural resource governance without government?
Around the world, governments are trying to reduce the economic and political costs of environmental governance, attempting to meet their environment and social justice political commitments by harnessing industry and citizen organisations. Among the drivers of this is the emphasis on ‘small government’ as an indicator of efficiency, increasing demands on limited public funds, the increased willingness of the private sector to increase its governance role, and beliefs about the relative effectiveness of private instruments compared to government regulation. This shift in emphasis from public governance to private governance is happening in at least four major ways:
1: the increasing use of market instruments such rights to pollute, private water rights, carbon trading, and very many (and very diverse) private environmental interests. Examples include transferable or tradable private water rights in the USA, Australia and parts of Europe.
2: the pursuit of private funds to achieve public good environmental goals, through private conservation reserves and environmental philanthropy. Examples such as the Nature Conservancy and Trust for Nature are illustrative.
3: the increased presence (and reliance on) private codes and standards, including self-regulation and co-regulation, environmental brands and industry codes.
4: the abandonment of traditional government roles, often involving de-regulation and budget reductions; or new rules that require less government supervision. Around the world governments now have deregulation agendas and task forces pursuing this goal, and of course in the USA this has become a central policy platform.
This is a major but largely undiscussed trend in environmental governance. There are many important questions about the effectiveness, efficiency and fairness of a move to governance without government. These include concerns about the conditions under which particular forms of private governance can work, issues about the political and ethical justification for such initiatives, and questions about the proper role of government in ensuring integrity and defending the interests of the less privileged.
This shift has many dimensions and implications for public governance, social justice, community development, the environment and politics. It is particularly relevant to communities that are closely interwoven with natural resource and the environment, and which have traditionally relied upon government to provide support and governance services related to nature.
More broadly, from a theoretical perspective, debate over the direction of travel of models of governance of social-environmental systems tend to ignore or understate their underlying rationality (hierarchical, market, network, collaborative, adaptive, democratic, …), and their promotion of particular forms of discourse, practices, power relations and institutions. These harbour implications for how sustainable development unfolds.
This conference will focus on this major issue. Topics include, but are not limited to:
Cases for and against private governance replacing public governance;
Value and limitations of alternative forms of governance;
Validity and effectiveness of different types of instrument;
Mechanisms of supervision and oversight to protect the public interest;
Implications for the role of different sectors in society;
Implications for communities.
The organisers invite papers that address public/private governance of natural resource and non-urban contexts (where resourcing and natural resource justice issues are most pronounced).