The most important land and water issues facing North America and the world – including land-use patterns, water management, biodiversity protection, and climate adaptation – require innovative governance arrangements. Most of these issues need to be addressed at several scales simultaneously, ranging from local to global. They require action at the scale of large landscapes given that the geographic scope of the issues often transcends the legal and geographic reach of existing jurisdictions and institutions. No single entity has the authority to address these types of cross-boundary issues, resulting in gaps in governance and a corresponding need to create formal and informal ways work more effectively across administrative boundaries, land ownerships, and political jurisdictions. In response to this challenge, numerous models of “network governance” are emerging. These approaches vary in terms of purpose, spatial scale, composition, organization, and complexity. This article explains what network governance is, why it is emerging, how it compares to other models of natural resource governance, and the different ways in which it develops and evolves.
Read the full article in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.