Nodes and networks in the governance of ecosystem-based adaptation: the case of the Bergrivier Municipality, South Africa


By Ziervogel, G., Pasquini, L. & Haiden, S. • 2017

New forms of governance that foster multi-level and collaborative action have been identified as key to climate change adaptation. Ecosystem based adaptation is emerging as an important type of adaptation response. Despite its recognized promise, it remains a challenging task to conceptualize governance regimes for it because of the involvement of numerous actors across the landscape scale. Both multi-level and collaborative forms of governance are required to involve relevant actors in decision-making and related actions. We explore the applicability of the theory of nodal governance, in conjunction with social network theory, to provide a framework for operationalizing the concepts of multi-level and collaborative governance. We use the Bergrivier municipal area of South Africa as a case study, focusing on organizations (nodes) that have the potential to implement ecosystem-based adaptation. We show that a nodal governance focus on institutional structures, mentalities, technologies, and resources can be highly effective for understanding the factors supporting or constraining ecosystem based adaptation. A focus on the number and strength of network connections that actors share highlights how the numerous connections between organizations constitute an important opportunity for strengthening ecosystem-based adaptation outcomes in the future. The analysis suggests that in the Bergrivier municipal area, both agricultural best practices and restoration activities are side-lined compared to other activities (e.g., land use planning) despite the importance of the agricultural sector in the Bergrivier area. We argue that a nodal governance focus, accompanied by the use of social network analysis, can be highly effective for understanding how to improve governance of adaptation at the local level. Read More