Learning from Experience to Operationalize Integrated Coastal and Marine Management
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Integrated coastal and marine management (ICM) is a system of governance that moves beyond traditional sector-based management. ICM is compatible with the holistic vision of a social-ecological systems (SES) approach. Despite its global recognition, operationalizing ICM has proven difficult. As a consequence, few ICM initiatives have been implemented within coastal and marine SES. The purpose of this research is to examine which elements and characteristics of governance contribute to the operationalization of ICM initiatives and ultimately, sustainable coastal and marine social-ecological systems. This dissertation is driven by the following three research objectives: to synthesize progress with ICM initiatives internationally in relation to governance (Chapter 2); to assess past and current ICM initiatives and identify critical challenges to operationalizing ICM in the Bay of Fundy (Chapter 3); and, to identify opportunities for ICM and to develop a suite of recommendations for moving forwards ICM in the Bay of Fundy (Chapter 4). Multiple methods were used to address these objectives. First, a systematic review of international literature on ICM initiatives was conducted revealing empirical evidence from international experience, and specifically, that a set of three core governance characteristics are important to operationalize ICM initiatives (Chapter 2): formal structures that form the legal basis for ICM through policy instruments (e.g., laws, acts, regulations); meaningful inclusion of diverse actor groups and knowledge types (e.g., social, cultural, traditional, local); and, innovative mechanisms, such as those other than sectoral top-down structural approaches. Next, semi-structured interviews (n=68) with participants who had experienced with ICM initiatives were undertaken within the Bay of Fundy region. Results from the interviews identified five critical challenges connected to an entrenched ‘business as usual’ mentality within conventional top-down centralized governance (Chapter 3). Critical challenges included: inconsistent commitment from legal authorities; inadequate capacity to sustain initiatives; inappropriate engagement of diverse actor groups; poorly supported informal structures and processes for horizontal integration; and, insufficient vertical integration of policies. Lastly, a comparative sub-regional case study approach of the Bay of Fundy (Lower Bay, New Brunswick and Upper Bay, Nova Scotia) yielded common opportunities to achieve the three core governance characteristics (Chapter 4). The opportunities for achieving core governance characteristics are to: learn from past experiences and keep trying new approaches; embrace a spectrum of strategies to enhance quality and appropriateness of actor engagement; and, build capacity of local actor groups for more effective engagement in ICM. Therefore, the following policy pathways for ICM relevant to the Bay of Fundy are recommended: update federal policy statements such as the Oceans Strategy to incorporating past lessons; strengthen commitment to ICM in federal law through the Oceans Act; create provincial engagement strategy to enhance engagement of local actor groups; and, amend the Municipality Acts (provincial legislation) in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to encourage local capacity building and municipal engagement in ICM. This dissertation highlights critical challenges, opportunities, and examples of policy recommendations to operationalize ICM initiatives from lived experiences in the Bay of Fundy. Additionally, practical suggestions are offered to enhance the role of local actors in complementing federal actions and progressing the operationalization and success of ICM initiatives. These results shape how we as scholars, practitioners, and managers conceptualize ICM as a governance approach to advance sustainability within coastal and marine SES. This research has advanced ICM theory and practice globally by offering a tool (e.g., the Elements and Characteristics of ICM framework) to unpack underlying governance for the successful operationalization of ICM initiatives (i.e., planning and development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and adaptation).
Cite this version of the work
Sondra Eger (2020). Learning from Experience to Operationalize Integrated Coastal and Marine Management. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/16564