National case studies

csiro_scienceimage_713_fertilising_seedlings_indiaResearch Phase 3: 2017-2018

This part of the project seeks deeper understanding of the way ecosystem services are translated into specific policy initiatives by carrying out five country-focused case studies. One of the goals here is to assess reflexive capacity and performance of political institutions at the national level. The countries selected are Canada, India, Indonesia, the UK, and Argentina. The case selection reflects countries in which the concept of ESS has been salient in either scholarly or political argument. The cases differ in geopolitical terms (global North and South), and the degree to which the concept of ESS has been institutionally embedded in governance practice. This variation is expected to generate further insights into the scope and limitations of the concept, as well as the relationship between conceptual innovation and institutional change.

The case studies will involve three key components:

  1. First, a general review of the uptake of the ecosystem services concept in the national policy context. This will establish how and to what extent the policy system has incorporated ecosystem services; which institutions have been most receptive or resistant; the favoured understandings and policy approaches and mechanisms; and provide some insight into the practical results of these interventions. The goal is to produce a jurisdictional ‘map’ of national engagement with the concept of ecosystem services; this will also point to any resistance to the concept itself, or to any specific policy mechanisms associated with the concept. Attention will be given to the processes that have been designed to engage with scientific evidence and stakeholders’ practical wisdom on ecosystem services valuation. Where resistance is detected, efforts will be made to identify the political and institutional factors that explain the resistance. Attention will also be given to identifying the epistemic community and their strategies to influence policy makers, and/or bypass national policy-makers by working directly with international agencies.
  2. Second, an intensive study of an historical political conflict associated with a particular ecosystem services and environmental valuation mechanism. Attention will be given to identifying winners and losers, potential injustices, and identifying the lessons that affected people and stakeholders perceive as relevant and important for future policy and practice. The purpose of this element is to gain detailed contextual knowledge of how conflicts develop and are ultimately resolved.
  3. Third, an intensive study of a recent ecosystem services valuation project or programme. The processes for recognizing and engaging with scientific evidence and stakeholders’ practical wisdom will be identified and evaluated in terms of actual practices. This will also involve examination of how lessons have been learned from the historical political conflict and applied in the context of this recent project.