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Nesting, Subsidiarity, and Community-based environmental Governance beyond the Local Scale

Author(s): Graham Marshall

Journal: International Journal of the Commons
ISSN 1875-0281

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 75;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: subsidiarity | nesting | decentralization | collaborative environmental management | robustness | trust

Community-based approaches to environmental management have become widely adopted over the last two decades. From their origins in grassroots frustrations with governmental inabilities to solve local environmental problems, these approaches are now sponsored frequently by governments as a way of dealing with such problems at much higher spatial levels. However, this 'up-scaling' of community-based approaches has run well ahead of knowledge about how they might work. This article explores how Elinor Ostrom's 'nesting principle' for robust common property governance of large-scale common-pool resources might inform future up-scaling efforts. In particular, I consider how the design of nested governance systems for large-scale environmental problems might be guided by the principle of subsidiarity. The challenges of applying this principle are illustrated by Australia's experience in up-scaling community-based natural resource management from local groups comprising 20-30 members to regional bodies representing hundreds of thousands of people. Seven lessons are distilled for fostering community-based environmental governance as a multi-level system of nested enterprises.
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