In many coastal nations, community-based arrangements for marine resource management (CBRM) are promoted by government, advocated for by non-government actors, and are seen by both as one of the most promising options to achieve sustainable use and secure inshore fisheries and aquatic resources. Although there is an abundant literature on what makes CBRM effective, is it less clear how CBRM is introduced or develops as an idea in a community, and the process of how the idea leads to the adoption of a new resource management approach with supporting institutions.
Aquatic agricultural systems in developing countries face increasing competition from multiple stakeholders operating from local to national and regional scales 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 such competition, building capacities for resilience and transformations that reduce poverty.
Where natural resources are a key component of the rural economy, the ability of the poor to realize their visions for the future depends significantly on institutional structures that govern resource access and management. This case study reports on an initiative on the shores of Lake Kariba in Zambia, where lakeshore residents face competition over fishing, tourism, and commercial aquaculture.
Where access to renewable natural resources essential to rural livelihoods is highly contested, improving cooperation in resource management is an important element in strategies for peacebuilding and conflict prevention. While researchers have made advances in assessing the role of environmental resources as a causal factor in civil conflict, analysis of the positive potential of collective natural resource management efforts to reduce broader conflict is less developed.
The six Coral Triangle countries-Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste-each have evolving systems of marine protected areas (MPAs) at the national and local levels. More than 1,900 MPAs covering 200,881 km2 (1.6% of the exclusive economic zone for the region) have been established within these countries over the last 40 years under legal mandates that range from village level traditional law to national legal frameworks that mandate the protection of large areas as MPAs.
Community-based management and co-management are mainstream approaches to marine conservation and sustainable resource management. In the tropical Pacific, these approaches have proliferated through the spread of locally-managed marine areas (LMMAs). LMMAs have garnered support because they can be adapted to different contexts and focus on locally identified objectives, negotiated and implemented by the people involved.
Conflict over environmental resources endangers rural people’s livelihoods and can increase the risk of broader social conflict. Yet action to sustain shared resources can also be a potent source of community building. Investing in capacities for conflict management can help launch innovations that build resilient rural livelihoods and strengthen institutions for equitable environmental governance. Governments and development agencies should invest in such capacity and integrate collaborative dialogue about environmental resources into program and policy implementation.