Sustainability 2013, 5(12), 5373-5390; doi:10.3390/su5125373

Institutional Change, Sustainability and the Sea

1 Leibniz Center for Marine Tropical Ecology (ZMT), Bremen 28359, Germany 2 School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Jacobs University, Bremen 28759, Germany 3 Sustainability Research Center (ARTEC), Bremen 28359, Germany 4 Bremen International Graduate School for Marine Sciences (GLOMAR), University of Bremen, Bremen 28359, Germany 5 Asia Research Center, Murdoch University, Murdoch WA 6150, Australia
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 September 2013; in revised form: 29 November 2013 / Accepted: 5 December 2013 / Published: 12 December 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Institutional Change)
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Abstract: Currently, a substantial institutional change is under way for marine and coastal resources. Sustainability plays a major role therein. At the time of writing, roughly 2.3% of the marine and coastal territory has been declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA). The Convention of Biological Diversity set a target to protect 10% of the global marine environment by 2020. This move toward enclosure signifies a substantial shift away from mainly open access to at least de jure marine protected areas. What drives institutional change towards MPAs; and what role does sustainability play in this change in governance? In reflecting on these questions, the paper’s aim is to begin a dialogue on how the social-ecological system (SES) analytical framework developed by Elinor Ostrom and her collaborators engages differentially with marine and coastal systems. How institutional change takes place depends on the characteristics of the resources considered and the drivers of change for the particular resource. In order to characterize the marine and coastal realm we use the social-ecological system (SES) framework of Elinor Ostrom. Douglas North’s theory of institutional change is used to classify the change observed. The marine realm has ambiguous system boundaries and often high resource mobility. Uncertainties about system properties and change are much higher than for terrestrial systems. Interdependencies among different ecosystems are high, necessitating multi-level governance. Institutional change in this sector occurs under strong institutional path dependencies and competing ideologies. All these features make it particularly relevant to think about institutional change, sustainability and the current process of MPA expansion.
Keywords: institutional change; sustainability; marine protected areas; SES-diagnostic framework

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MDPI and ACS Style

Schlüter, A.; Wise, S.; Schwerdtner Mánez, K.; de Morais, G.W.; Glaser, M. Institutional Change, Sustainability and the Sea. Sustainability 2013, 5, 5373-5390.

AMA Style

Schlüter A, Wise S, Schwerdtner Mánez K, de Morais GW, Glaser M. Institutional Change, Sustainability and the Sea. Sustainability. 2013; 5(12):5373-5390.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Schlüter, Achim; Wise, Sarah; Schwerdtner Mánez, Kathleen; de Morais, Gabriela W.; Glaser, Marion. 2013. "Institutional Change, Sustainability and the Sea." Sustainability 5, no. 12: 5373-5390.

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