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Governance of Aquatic Agricultural Systems: Analyzing Representation, Power, and Accountability

Blake D. Ratner, WorldFish
Philippa Cohen, ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University; WorldFish
Benoy Barman, WorldFish
Kosal Mam, WorldFish
Joseph Nagoli, WorldFish
Edward H. Allison, School of International Development, University of East Anglia; WorldFish


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Aquatic agricultural systems in developing countries face increasing competition from multiple stakeholders over rights to access and use natural resources, land, water, wetlands, and fisheries, essential to rural livelihoods. A key implication is the need to strengthen governance to enable equitable decision making amidst competition that spans sectors and scales, building capacities for resilience, and for transformations in institutions that perpetuate poverty. In this paper we provide a simple framework to analyze the governance context for aquatic agricultural system development focused on three dimensions: stakeholder representation, distribution of power, and mechanisms of accountability. Case studies from Cambodia, Bangladesh, Malawi/Mozambique, and Solomon Islands illustrate the application of these concepts to fisheries and aquaculture livelihoods in the broader context of intersectoral and cross-scale governance interactions. Comparing these cases, we demonstrate how assessing governance dimensions yields practical insights into opportunities for transforming the institutions that constrain resilience in local livelihoods.

Key words

accountability; Bangladesh; Cambodia; civil society; coastal zone management; environmental governance; livelihoods; Malawi; Mozambique; power; social-ecological resilience; Solomon Islands; stakeholder representation; wetlands

Copyright © 2013 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087