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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Right kind of collaboration is key to solving environmental problems

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August 18, 2017 Stockholm University read full ScienceDaily article here

….The coming decade may determine whether humanity will set a course toward a more socially and ecologically sustainable society. A crucial part of this goal is to develop a better understanding of how cooperation can be improved and become more effective, both within and among private stakeholders and public institutions….

“Our research shows that the ability to solve environmental problems is in part connected to the way these networks are structured — the patterns of collaboration between actors,” says Örjan Bodin.

The research shows that certain patterns are more suitable for solving different types of shared problems. For example, if the problem implies a high risk of actor free-riding on others’ efforts, the situation is improved by tightly linking the actors together. This could mean that two actors who cooperate with the same, third actor should also cooperate directly with each other, forming a triangle of cooperation.

“It also makes a difference whether the environmental problem is temporary or more permanent. If it’s temporary it can be more effective to have a cooperative network with a clearly chosen coordinator or leader to hold it together,” says Örjan Bodin.

The study also shows how the ability to solve problems even depends on how a network ‘aligns’ with the structures and processes found in the affected ecosystem. This means, for example, that if two actors deal with two different yet interconnected parts of the ecosystem they should work together….

Örjan Bodin. Collaborative environmental governance: Achieving collective action in social-ecological systems. Science, 2017; 357 (6352): eaan1114 DOI: 10.1126/science.aan1114

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