Organisational innovation : some emerging environmental governance models in South Africa

Muller, Kobus (2007)

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In South Africa, like elsewhere in the world, the complexities of natural re- source management and the postmodern reality of a fragmented institutional landscape complicate efforts to develop effective institutions for environmental governance. The transformation of South African society in general and, specifically, the transformation of processes and the institutional landscape following the transition to democracy opened a window of opportunity and a willingness on the part of the various role players to experiment with novel and innovative organisational forms and arrangements. In line with the 1992 Rio Earth Summit thinking, the idea that a decentralised set of networks and partnerships holds the most promising institutional prospect for the future qualified with the argument that the transformation imperatives might sometimes necessitate central guidance is generally accepted as a point of departure. The emergence of regional and community-based natural resource management is new in the South African context. Working for Water (WfW), one of the government's flagship programmes, was the first to be initiated in 1995. The establishment of the first biosphere reserve dates back to 1998, while the first of the water catchment management agencies was created seven years after it was legislatively mandated in 1998. Some other initiatives, such as Cape Action for People and the Environment (CAPE) and Working on Fire Programme were initiated in 2000 and 2003 respectively. Because these structures are still evolving, they offer a unique opportunity to study and compare the evolution of these systems for the purposes of both organisational and social learning. Although it is perhaps too early to draw definitive conclusions on the success of these models, some pointers to guide future research may be derived from the initial observations of the emerging features of the selected models and processes.

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