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Governing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in China: towards the repositioning of the Central State and the empowerment of local communities

Qiu, W.; (2010) Governing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in China: towards the repositioning of the Central State and the empowerment of local communities. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

There are growing academic and policy debates on how best to govern MPAs, concerning the benefits and risks of different governance approaches and instruments. This echoes the broader debates on the roles of state hierarchies, markets, and community participation in governing societal affairs. This study investigates the roles of different actors involved in governing MPAs, and the strengths and weaknesses of MPA governance in China. The research questions are addressed through three detailed case studies. Despite some variations, the three case study MPAs show major similarities in governance structure. In all three cases, the attitudes of key actors towards biodiversity conservation and their influences on MPA decision-making can be characterised by: 1) an unenthusiastic state, which often adopts a non-interventionist strategy in MPA management and law enforcement, as long as the MPAs exist on paper; 2) corporatised local governments, which are keen to influence and dominate MPA decision-making and law enforcement to promote economic development; 3) a growing private sector, which can both strengthen or undermine MPA governance by forming alliances with government institutions; and 4) silent local communities, whose influence on MPA governance has been very limited. In addressing the key conflicts in governing MPAs in China, the use of economic instruments appears to be the most important steering mechanism. Both state steering and community participation are used less effectively. Overall, the imbalance of power in governing MPAs and the over-reliance on market-based approaches arguably leads to failures in protecting the interests of biodiversity and local communities. Restoring the balance of power in MPA governance in China may therefore mean repositioning the central state and empowering local communities, which will allow diversified and balanced use of different steering mechanisms. Returning to a balance of power will also provide for more effective and equitable governance outcomes.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Governing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in China: towards the repositioning of the Central State and the empowerment of local communities
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Geography

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