Resilience thinking and the evolution of collaborative environmental governance in the Western Cape

Muller, Kobus (2014-03)


To cope with complex environmental governance realities, new innovative models of collaborative governance or co-management have emerged in South Africa over the last 15 years. Resilience – defi ned as the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and still retain its basic function and structure – is dependent on the system’s adaptive capacity or its ability to reorganise and renew itself in the face of change. A concept growing in importance for understanding, managing and governing complex socio-ecological systems is that of resilience. Increasingly, collaborative governance is also combined with learning-based approaches such as adaptive management, formulated originally to deal with complexity and uncertainty. In the Western Cape in the globally threatened biodiversity hotspot of the Cape Floral Kingdom, institutional innovation has also fl ourished in the environmental governance arena. This article focuses on a selection of these new collaborative governance models and will attempt to analyse and understand their evolution from a resilience perspective. In conclusion, some observations and refl ections will be offered on the practical implications of applying resilience thinking to collaborative governance settings and the possible insights we can gain from this

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