Adaptive governance of the Baltic Sea - lessons from elsewhere

Author(s): Valman, M., Österblom, H., Olsson, P.
In: International Journal of the Commons, [S.l.], feb. 2015.
Year: 2015
Type: Journal / article
Theme affiliation: Marine
Link to centre authors: Olsson, Per, Österblom, Henrik
Full reference: Valman, M., H. Österblom, P. Olsson. 2015. Adaptive governance of the Baltic Sea: Lessons from elsewhere. International Journal of the Commons 9: 440–465


Governance of marine resources is increasingly characterized by
integrated, cross sectoral and ecosystem based approaches. Such
approaches require that existing governing bodies have an ability to
adapt to ecosystem dynamics, while also providing transparent and
legitimate outcomes.

Here, we investigate how the Baltic Marin Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM), the international governin body for the Baltic Sea, could improve its prospects for working with the ecosystem approach, drawing from the literature on adaptive governance. We construct an ideal type of adaptive governance to which we compare the way in which HELCOM is operating and relate thes dynamics to two other international marine environment governanc organizations, the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisherie and Food Security (CTI-CFF) and the Commission for the Conservation o Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

We conclude that HELCO deviates from an ideal type of adaptive governance in several ways bu also that the other two case studies provide empirical support fo potential ways in which HELCOM could improve its adaptive capacity. Ke aspects where HELCOM could improve include increasing stakeholder participation – both in information sharing and decision making.
Further, HELCOM need to develop evaluation mechanisms, secure compliance
to improve adaptive capacity and organizational effectiveness, which
entails the development of structures for conflict resolution. Finally,
HELCOM need to increase communication and harmonization between
different levels of authority.


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