October 21, 2010

A University of Cape Town project led by the Environmental Evaluation Unit,

Department of Environmental & Geographical Science

In collaboration with researchers in the Departments of Law, Sociology, History, Botany, Economics and the Graduate School of Business

Contributions are invited towards a book entitled Environmental Governance for Social Justice: Lessons Across Natural Resource Sectors in Southern Africa.

Worldwide, natural resources are faced with increasing pressures from globalization, growing consumption levels, stark disparities between the rich and the poor, and contestation for use by different stakeholders. As a result, natural resources are threatened by over-exploitation, mismanagement, degradation and pollution. These threats have had a severe impact on local communities and indigenous people, many of whom are exposed to abject poverty and who rely on natural resources for food security, income and livelihoods. An increased understanding of the complex interactions and interdependencies that exist between natural and socio-economic systems has prompted calls for alternative and innovative approaches to managing natural resources. In some cases this has included shifts from a centralized, top-down approach to a more holistic and people-centred approach that embraces the concepts of social justice, participation, poverty alleviation and human rights. In other instances, however, peoples’ rights are trammelled and the poor often find themselves the victims of autocratic policy decisions. Issues of governance underpin many of these threats and pressures, meaning both the political dimension of policy formulation as well as the ’system of rules that shape the actions of social actors’ (in Treib et al, 2007, p. 3). Environmental governance is concerned not only with government regulation and law enforcement, but also with the ’political, institutional, and cultural frameworks through which diverse interests in natural and cultural resources are coordinated and controlled’ (Cronkleton et al, 2008, p. 1). An integral part of this picture is the interaction between private and public actors to address natural resource management problems.

Despite the plethora of research undertaken on environmental governance, research has traditionally been undertaken within specific natural resource sectors and by specific disciplines with limited joint analyses and sharing of knowledge and lessons learned across these sector studies. Yet a number of interesting parallels are emerging with regard to natural resource management across coastal and land-based sectors, including:
- the role played by government in regulating access to and use of natural resources,
- an emphasis on participatory approaches to resource management,
- influences and outcomes of different institutional models of governance, including devolution,
- influences of international and regional soft law instruments on governance approaches in Southern Africa,
- the role of customary law and indigenous knowledge systems in governance,
- governance changes that occur with the commercialization of natural resources,
- approaches towards compliance that move beyond reactive law enforcement,
- the evolving institutional landscape within communities as resources become more scarce and contested,
- conservation governance and the impacts of protected areas on livelihoods,
- identification and maintenance of alternative livelihoods as a means to address poverty in resource scarce and stressed areas,
- approaches towards securing equitable and fair benefit sharing,
- the influence of globalization, corporatization and market forces on the governance of natural resources, and
- governance approaches in a time of high volatility and rapid environmental and climate change.

Contributors are invited to prepare chapters relating to these themes – or to propose new themes - to form part of a book, to be published in 2012. This stems from a project initiated by the Environmental Evaluation Unit at the University of Cape Town, working in collaboration with researchers in various disciplines across the university. The project aims to consolidate and enhance intellectual understanding, knowledge and capacity regarding environmental governance in southern Africa through collaborative trans-disciplinary research across natural resource sectors and institutions. A key interest is to bring together expertise from different sectors and disciplines to critically analyze existing concepts and approaches to environmental governance and seek models of governance that uphold principles of equity, social justice and environmental sustainability.

The book will be edited by Associate Professor Merle Sowman, Dr Rachel Wynberg and Dr Maria Hauck, all of the University of Cape Town. The publisher has not yet been finalized, although several have expressed interest.

Potential contributors should submit a 300 word abstract by 15 November 2010. Those selected for inclusion in the book will be notified by 30 November 2010.

Authors of selected abstracts will be invited to prepare an extended abstract for presentation to a writer’s workshop in Cape Town in February 2011.

Authors should note the need for papers to be integrative in nature, drawing on lessons from a variety of sectors, disciplines and/or ecosystems. Although papers can include case study reviews and material, the requirement for cross-cutting analysis is highlighted, encouraging co-authorship across sectors if appropriate.

Only original and unpublished papers will be considered and manuscripts must be in English.
Submissions from nationals in Southern African countries are especially encouraged.

A multi-disciplinary Advisory Committee will be formed to review individual chapters based on their expertise.

Please submit abstracts to: Fahdelah.Hartley@uct.ac.za by 15 November

Additional information about the project is available from Associate Professor Merle