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3° Encontro Nacional ABRI 2011 2011


Governing the commons and common governing



Magnus Paul Alexander Franzén

E-mail: franzen_magnus@yahoo.com




This article takes an eclectic approach to environmental governance, using economic theories of governing the commons together with theories of multi-level governance and participation. It brings together the framework presented by Ostrom (1990) of how commons can be governed by the local users, the 'glass half full' model of Engels and Saleska (2005), conclusions drawn from empirical evidence on local climate mitigation activities, and an institutional economics perspective on environmental degradation, I wish to draw attention to a multi-level answer to global climate change, where the local is the geographical space where concrete actions take place. The objective is to describe a framework for decision-making that enables the (global) commons to be administered on a subglobal/subnational. The article is divided into five parts. After this introduction, I try to explain the concept of commons and the concept of property, which is seen as a crucial part of the solution, and I review the economic analysis of the commons-problem. In the third section, I give a brief account for the role of multi-level governance. This discussion is then followed by the suggestion of a local solution to a global problem, in section four. Finally, I conclude with some ideas for further study.

Keywords: Local governments, climate change, transnational networks


Este artigo aborda a governança ambiental sob uma perspectiva eclética, tendo em vista teorias econômicas acerca dos "commons" (bens comuns), juntamente com teorias de governança e participação em multi-níveis. O mesmo traz um quadro geral apresentado por Ostrom (1990) de como os "commons" podem ser governados por usuários locais; o modelo de "glass half full" de Engels e Saleska (2005), com conclusões extraídas de evidencias empíricas de atividades a nível local em prol da mitigação de mudanças climáticas; além de perspectiva econômica institucional sobre degradação ambiental. Pretendo dar maior atenção a respostas em diversos níveis referente às mudanças climáticas, tendo em vista o 'local' enquanto o espaço geográfico onde as ações concretas são realmente efetivadas. O objetivo, portanto, é descrever um quadro geral para tomadas de decisões que permitem a administração dos 'bens comuns' em esfera sub-global/subnacional. O artigo é dividido em cinco partes. Após a introdução, tento explicar os conceitos de 'bens comuns' e de propriedade, o qual é visto como uma parte crucial para a solução da questão, assim como faço uma revisão das análises econômicas acerca dos problemas dos 'bens comuns'. Na terceira seção, faço um breve relato sobre o papel da governança em vários níveis. Esta discussão é então acompanhada de sugestões sobre uma possível solução a nível local para um problema global. Finalmente, concluo a discussão com algumas idéias para futuros estudos.

Palavras-chave: Governos locais, mudanças climáticas, redes transnacionais



I Introduction

"Nobody makes a greater mistake than he who does nothing because he could only do a little"
- Edmund Burke

Four decades have passed since Garrett Hardin wrote the article The Tragedy of the Commons (1968). The original neo-Malthusian message has since largely been discarded and few governments (if any other than the People's Republic of China) has adhered to the idea of, through the state, controlling human fecundity (DEESE 2008). However, the tragedy of the commons as a concept lives on. The eminence of solutions to environmental degradation is clear, and much of the degradation that is taking place does so in spaces that can be characterized as commons, the most salient out of which is the global atmosphere.

To be able to mitigate climate change, the governing of the global commons is essential. As the international attempts to address the issue of climate change are failing, more innovative approaches are called for. In this article, I take an eclectic approach to environmental governance, using economic theories of governing the commons together with theories of multi-level governance and participation. By bringing together the framework presented by Ostrom (1990) of how commons can be governed by the local users, the 'glass half full' model of Engels and Saleska (2005), conclusions drawn from empirical evidence on local climate mitigation activities, and an institutional economics perspective on environmental degradation, I wish to draw attention to a multi-level answer to global climate change, where the local is the geographical space where concrete actions take place. The objective is to describe a framework for decision-making that enables the (global) commons to be administered on a subglobal/subnational. Being a truly ambitious task, providing fixed answers is clearly out of reach for this paper. However, I hope to be able to present some points of departure for further discussion.

The article is divided into five parts. After this introduction, I try to explain the concept of commons and the concept of property, which is seen as a crucial part of the solution, and I review the economic analysis of the commons-problem. In the third section, I give a brief account for the role of multi-level governance. This discussion is then followed by the suggestion of a local solution to a global problem, in section four. Finally, I conclude with some ideas for further study.


II Commons, Property, and Game Theory

i) Common

In his article, Hardin (1968) writes about a pasture where all herdsmen of the village are allowed to keep their cattle. As the total cattle population grows (for one reason or another, such as a more preferable social situation where cattle raising is promoted before war-making), a point will be reached where adding more cattle will have negative consequences on the sustainable use of the pasture; that is, it will gradually lose its ability to offer grass for any cattle. This may be clear to all the herdsmen; however, the benefit of adding more cattle in the pasture goes to the single herdsman, meanwhile the cost of it will be borne by the collective of herdsmen. This means that the benefit for the single herdsman (which can be said to be 1) greatly exceeds the cost for the same (which would only be a fraction of 1). Assuming that the herdsman is a rational being he will, thus, add more and more cattle to the pasture.

This imagined scenario of the tragedy of the herdsmen's commons is a reflection over individual⁄collective rationality and the management of common property resources. The tragedy is similar to a classical prisoner's dilemma game where free-riding is not only possible, but the actual rational behavior of individual actors in the collective, and where all incentives for individual restraint are non-existent. We will discuss this game theory and its consequences further on, but before we do, we better look into the meaning of commons or common property resources as it has also been called (OSTROM 1990).

The commons or common property resources are defined as "a natural or man-made resource system that is sufficiently large as to make it costly (but not impossible) to exclude potential beneficiaries from obtaining benefits from its use" (OSTROM 1990, p. 30). Feeny et al. (1990, p. 3) add another characteristic to the definition and write that the commons are resources that when extracted from by one actor, all other actors get their potential use of the resource diminished. Accordingly, resources that are held in common, such as rivers, underground basins, lakes, oceans, forests, parklands, and the atmosphere, all fall into this category.

There are diverging views within economics on the essence of the commons. First we have A. C. Pigou (1932), who has inspired the dominant policy approach to environmental protection by promoting the use of government power to tax and regulate in order to remove externalities from the economic process. Externality here is all the costs that are not included in the economic transaction on the market, for example pollution from the production of a good. With taxes it is assumed that these externalities can be internalized in the cost of the product, thus minimizing the cost that is passed on to others in society, just as the negative effects of the extra cattle in the herder's flock that are divided between all the herders. We could imagine, thus, a tax on every cattle that exceeds a certain number, money that then could be used to mitigate the negative effects of overgrazing or incentivize less destructive behavior.

Coase (1960) presents another idea that, instead of thinking in terms of externalities, treat negative environmental effects as conflicting or alternative uses of a resource. These uses will be the object of competition which in turn will provide the answer for which use is valued higher. Coase (1960) showed how, with Pigou's own assumptions, government intervention was unwarranted, as the resources would be efficiently allocated in a world free from transaction costs. For Coase the fundamental problem was ill-defined rights of usage, i.e. property rights (ANDERSON & GREWELL 1999, p. 76). An ill-defined property rights regime would impede the smooth competition over resource use and, therefore, provoke environmental degradation. This system of conflict resolution through competition built on property rights is inherently followed by transactions costs. If it is too expensive to enforce, bargain for, or exchange property rights, it is probable that the system will break down. Given its importance, this encourages us to discuss property rights in more detail below.

However, institutional economics has evolved and offers a critique also to Coase, Paavola (2007) writes:

"Pigouvian reasoning on welfare-enhancing policy interventions is illegitimate because it makes a false distinction between allocative and distributive decisions [...] Pigouvian taxes and subsidies alter initial endowments, redistribute wealth and income, and result in different equilibria which cannot be compared in Paretian terms [...] The same applies to Coase's alternative assignments of property rights and the maximization of social welfare subject to transactions costs". (PAAVOLA 2007, p. 95)

He then continues: "the new institutional research on environmental governance has focused on common-pool resources as a source of interdependence" (PAAVOLA 2007, p. 95). This interdependence results in conflict, which is resolved through the modification or reaffirmation of institutions. Paavola argues that the most important variables in collective environmental decision-making are distributive and governance outcomes, that is, social justice rather than efficiency (PAAVOLA 2007, pp. 95f).

ii) Property

What is meant by property rights is not clearly defined in the literature; Musole (2009) presents a variety of different definitions, but ultimately conclude that property rights are the "rights people have or acquire over the use of resources" and these are exclusive, but not unrestricted (MUSOLE 2009, pp. 53ff). Property rights can arise from law, custom, and the operation of markets (WIEBE & MEINZEN-DICK 1998, p. 205). However, property rights are not uniform and can be divided into different types of regimes. Four types are commonly mentioned: open-access, private property, communal property, and state property (FEENY et al. 1990, p. 4; MUSOLE 2009, pp. 55ff). The open-access regime is res nullius, that is, access is free and open to anyone and there is an absence of regulation and defined property rights. This regime is present at Hardin's imaginary pasture, the oceans (at least before the 19th century), and the atmosphere. In contrast, private property regimes give the right of usage and to decide over the access of others to one specific individual (or group of individuals, for example in a company). The private property rights are often transferable to others. It is important to notice that private property regimes are often enforced and recognized by the state. One cannot overlook the significance of formal versus informal settings and it is problematic when property rights regimes, de facto, breaks down.

The communal property regime gives the right of usage and exclusion to a group of users in a community. These users are often interdependent in some way and usage and access are usually equal between members in the community. The property rights under this regime are frequently non-transferable. The rights may be legally recognized by the State, or de facto rights separate from State interference. Some authors identify the communal property right as part of the final property rights regime - state property. However, others mention them as a separate property regimes (FEENY et al. 1990; MUSOLE 2009). Within the state property regime, the right to decide over usage and access lies with the government. This regime differs from the previous two since the State also inhabits the coercive power to enforce compliance with the property right. In the other two regimes this power of enforcement has either to be brought in from the outside, i.e. through recognition and enforcement by the State, or be circumvented in some way through agreements. Possibly colored by the historical context within which he found himself, Hardin described how there were only two solutions to environmental problems; either privatization or state control, i.e. socialism (1968, p. 1245). However, several authors identify the communal property regime as a possible solution; the only regime that is consistently rejected by most authors as incapable of protecting the commons is the open-access regime (OSTROM 1990; GERBER et al. 2009, p. 802; BROMLEY et al. 1992). Dietz et al. (2003, p. 1908) underlines that no type of ownership unvaryingly succeeds or fails to address environmental degradation.

iii) Game Theory

There are different game theories that describe the behavior of actors. As already mentioned, Hardin's scenario is similar to the prisoner's dilemma game where all players are aware of the potential defect of the other players. Rules and agreements made by the players are assumed to be useless, since there is no mechanism to enforce them. In the game, it is also assumed that all players have complete information of the game tree and the payoffs derived from the outcomes, and can, therefore, rationally choose their strategy. However, the rational choices made by the players do not result in an optimal strategy for the collective, since, given the assumptions made, their individual strategies will produce a less than best result, and incentives for the players to change their preferred strategy independently of the other players strategies does not exist.

Similar to Hardin's suggestion, this game theory results, according to many, in two possible solutions, what Ostrom (1990) refers to as the two 'only ways' - the Leviathan or privatization. The Leviathan is a term borrowed from Hobbes to describe an external coercive force that obligates people to act in a certain way. This force would, in this case, be the State. Some authors have even gone so far as to doubt if democracy would be able to respond to the measures needed, and that less inclusive forms of rule would be necessary to combat ecological degradation (for example, HEILBRONER 1974 or the statements of Lovelock in The Guardian: HICKMAN 2010). Even in a democratic environment, two assumptions lay at the base of this idea; first, that private interests cannot be expected to protect the commons without external regulation, and second, that common property needs public, external control to reach economic efficiency. The commons are seen to be best governed by centralized control through public agencies. Ostrom (1990, pp. 9ff) describes how this system would work on Hardin's pasture. An external government agency would determine who could use, when they can use, and to what extent they can use the pasture. The strategy would result in an optimally efficient equilibrium given that the agency could accurately obtain all information concerning the pasture's capacity and succeeds in assigning this capacity, monitor actions, and sanction noncompliance. The stakes are quite high in a similar game. Slight misinformation and the central agency would be unable to avoid errors in setting capacity rate, monitoring, or sanctioning. The game also assumes that there are no transaction costs for the agency to comply with its responsibilities.

The other 'only way' emphasizes a private property regime. The idea is that to avoid environmental degradation from unsustainable use of the resource, it has to be privatized. An external force might be necessary to enforce the property right, but other than that the right to decide over usage and access will lie with the individual player. Privatizing common resources is not always easy. When it is about land, as in the case of the pasture, it is fairly easy to divide the land between the players, who then can transfer, hold, or use it as they please. However, other resources are more complicated, such as water in a stream or fishery. These resources are not easily, or sometimes impossibly, divided, meaning that private property regimes can be difficult to enforce (OSTROM 1990, p. 13).

However, there is also an alternative to the 'only ways' - a, one could say, 'middle way'. Ostrom (1990) argues for a more pluralistic view on the governing of commons. Ostrom shows, through empirical evidence, how commons are successfully self-governed by users. First of all, she argues that not all commons are prisoner's dilemma games, but instead there is a complex game structure where the single equilibrium does not exist. Open-access can be described as prisoner's dilemma as long as there is no limitation on the amount of users. However, when there is a natural limit on the amount of users it is not, and the incentives for users are dependent on the institutions created (OSTROM 1990, pp. 46ff). Further, Ostrom defines eight design principles that are key to endurance of the governance of commons (1990, pp. 90-102):

1. clearly defined who are the users of the resource;
2. rules that are adapted to the specific resource, or case;
3. participation of the individuals affected by the rules in the creation of the same;
4. effective monitoring;
5. a graduated sanctioning system, which starts at a low level making users feel secure, adhering to what has been called 'quasi-voluntary compliance' (Levi 1988 cited in Ostrom 1990:94);
6. a mechanism for conflict or controversy resolution;
7. a recognition on behalf of government of the right to organize the commons voluntarily; and,
8. all the aspects of the governance of the common - appropriation, provision, monitoring, enforcement, conflict resolution, and governance activities - are organized in multiple layers.

The case of global commons is complicated. It can be argued, that there is a prisoner's dilemma game when it comes to organization around global commons. That the amount and rights of users is not clearly defined (more than in terms of all of humanity, or all nations) is arguably an issue of communication. Ostrom writes: "the prediction that users will over-harvest a common-pool resource is supported in experiments where participants do not know the other individuals who are involved, and when they cannot communicate with each other" (OSTROM 2010, p. 2).

Furthermore, actions to, for example, mitigate carbon emissions or to create institutions for such actions, can be rational behavior even in a prisoner's dilemma game, according to Engel and Saleska (2005). In their article, Engel and Saleska show how subglobal actors can have rational incentives for acting to mitigate climate change even though unified global action is not undertaken. The authors call it 'the glass half full' equilibrium model, which indicates that the optimal strategy for each player is one that is more environmentally friendly than a 'business as usual'-strategy (ENGEL & SALESKA 2005, pp. 194ff).


III Decision-Making and Levels of Governance

To be able to understand multi-level governance, we need to clarify what we mean by governance. Governance should be seen as a concept separate from government. Olowu (2003) describes two approaches to defining governance. The first is that of the World Bank, which states that governance is 'management of a country's economic and social development' (WORLD BANK 1994 cited in OLOWU 2003, pp. 502f). The second "focuses on the sharing of authority for public management between state and non-state actors" (OLOWU 2003, p. 503). In this spirit, Betsill and Bulkeley (2006) define governance as "[involving] processes through which collective goals are defined and pursued in which the state (or government) is not necessarily the only or most important actor". This definition underlines that governance is much broader than government and gives importance to supranational and subnational levels, state and nonstate actors, and the relationships between them.

Multi-level governance, then, is a complex concept. Hooghe and Marks (2003) divide multi-level governance into two categories - Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 is used to describe "jurisdictions at a limited number of levels. These jurisdictions - international, national, regional, meso, local - are general-purpose. That is, they bundle together multiple functions" (HOOGHE & MARKS 2003, p. 236). Type 2 multi-level governance, on the other hand, is "composed of specialized jurisdictions [...] is fragmented into functionally specific pieces [...] tend to be lean and flexible - they come and go as demands for governance change" (HOOGHE & MARKS 2003, p. 236).

Piattoni (2008) describes multi-level governance as a three dimensional concept built around three axis. On the first axis is a movement away from a unitary state towards federal or confederal configurations. On the second, there is a movement away from an anarchic reality towards one based on created structures and rules in regimes. Finally, on the third axis, the distinction between state and society, private and public, is getting blurred. Consequently, we have a concept that tries to explain a complex relationship between several parallel processes. International regimes are created through institutionalization, intergovernmental agreements, and regional integration processes, at the same time as new spaces for action on the local level is created, and a variety of actors are starting to occupy new roles and enjoy increased importance.

Alger (1999) argues that the links between local and global are substantial and important. Local communities play an important part in shaping globalization as they are "critical focus of economic activity, of governance, of social organization for the 1990s and the century to come" (PEIRCE 1993, p. 1 cited in ALGER 1999, p. 200). Alger argues that democracy is depending on people's knowledge of the links between them and the global space. He mentions three requirements. That people be aware of the impact of the world system on their community; know where decisions are being made; and know how to participate in these decisions.

An important part of multi-level governance is the decentralization of decision-making. The primary argument is that a decentralized decision-making process opens for more equitable policies and that the local level has more knowledge about the problems the policies are supposed to solve, thus making the decentralized decision-making more functional (LANE 2003, p. 284). There are, however, critics to the idea of decentralization. Lane (2003) describes how decentralization of environmental governance in Australia encountered a series of problems, and he identified three aspects that have to be taken into account before engaging in a decentralization project. First, the role of the state will still be central as a mediating force between different non-state actors. One of the key tenets of decentralization is that it offers a more participatory form of democracy. Nonetheless, Lane concludes, it can also lead to corporatist agreements that fail to include less powerful actors. Second, if decision-making power is decentralized to civil society it is harder to invoke institutions of accountability. The political process is externalized to actors in civil society that are not accountable for their decisions to the same degree as politicians. Third, broad public participation is often inhibited by an overly scientific discourse. Decision-making has to be made open not only formally but also practically by facilitating participation in the deliberative process. Similarly, Wilder and Lankao (2006) question the positive social results of privatization and decentralization of water provision in Mexico. It is argued that decentralizing to private actors did not give the expected results in efficiency and environmental benefits. Hence, it is not given that multi-level governance will provide positive results and adequate institutional arrangements cannot be overseen.


IV The Local Alternative

Puppim de Oliveira (2009) gives four principal reasons for why subnational governments are important in fighting climate change. First, many areas that are key to climate change mitigation, fall under the jurisdiction of subnational governments, such as transportation and energy use. Second, many of the policies adopted internationally or nationally, are then actually implemented on the subnational level. Third, local governments are more flexible when it comes to implement new policies. They can adapt quickly to new situations since they are smaller and often leaner organizations compared to slow working, national bureaucracies. Fourth, there might be a spill-over effect from policies implemented in a specific locality, and these policies might spread to other localities, national, or international level. Betsill and Bulkeley (2006) mention three additional reasons for looking to cities for climate change policy work. First, cities are already engaged in climate change mitigation activities, through, for example, Local Agenda 21. Second, local governments can work as bridge builders, fostering necessary partnerships with different stakeholders in society, opening for more public participation in policymaking. Third, local governments often have important experience in managing and addressing environmental impacts and issues. The authors, in accordance with Puppim de Oliveira, mention the importance of spill-over to other local governments and issue jurisdiction. Grimmond et al. (2010) describe how cities are the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere, as well as the driving forces in changes in land-use, such as deforestation, surface pavements, and general construction.

Puppim de Oliveira (2009) then mentions six challenges for local governments to engage in climate change mitigating activities. First, even though some issues fall under local government jurisdiction, the lack autonomy can sometimes hinder further policy-making. Second, local demands might be diverging government to prioritize other issues. Third, there might be a lack of institutional and/or financial capabilities to take on such a complex issue as the environment. Fourth, there is often a lack of locally based commitments, as these are often made in international forums by the nation. Fifth, the problem of the prisoner's dilemma that we have previously analyzed. Sixth, coordinated national action might prove to be more efficient and effective. Furthermore, Puppim de Oliveira describes how integration of the policies on three areas is crucial to success: first, integration with other sectorial policies, such as land-use, energy, or transport; second, the integration with other levels of government; and third, the integration of civil society in the decision-making process.

One example of how local governments have organized independently of national governments is the Cities for Climate Change Protection (CCP) program, which works as a transnational network connecting municipalities all over the world in order to fight climate change. Betsill and Bulkeley write: "[the CCP] epitomizes the development of Type II multilevel governance, creating a new sphere of authority through which the governance of climate change is taking place and which is not bound to a particular scale" (BETSILL & BULKELEY 2006, p. 151). However, this does not mean that the state is being overrun be lower-level governance: "Although states increasingly rely on nonstate actors and networks such as the CCP program, it is equally clear that the state, operating at multiple scales, has been central in determining how climate change has been interpreted as a policy problem and the extent to which actions have been implemented" (BETSILL & BULKELEY 2006, p. 152). Kousky and Schneider (2003) also analyses transnational networks for local action and concludes that, in contradiction to economic theory of the prisoner's dilemma cities have set emission targets and been involved in other initiatives. They mention four possible explanations for this seemingly irrational behavior: the costs of activities are perceived as low or nonexistent; being ahead is perceived to bring benefits when national action is being taken later; altruism; local politicians respond to citizen pressure, and consequently act in a politically rational manner even though it might not be economically rational (KOUSKY & SCHNEIDER 2003, p. 360).

The CCP is part of a transnational network of local governments called International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI). This type of network can help address several of the challenges mentioned above. First of all, the network can provide a possibility for an institutional and financial structure to take on the issue of climate change. Institutionally by creating connections between cities allowing for mutual learning processes to be engaged, letting knowledge be transferred between cities in different socio-economic contexts. Financially, the network could constitute a framework for helping cities in less developed regions by transferring some of the membership costs to more affluent cities. Second, although the ICLEI being voluntary, membership could mean a statement of commitment to climate change mitigation. Taking into account the institutional and perhaps financial benefits of membership, the costs of commitment might be seen as bearable.

Third, the issue of prisoner's dilemma might be addressed through collective, voluntary action through a global network of local entities. The glass-half-full model, presented by Engel and Saleska (2005), shows how actors might be acting rationally when engaging in climate change mitigation even though other actors are not. A network such as ICLEI could provide a forum for these actors to find partners in their activities, and so further mitigate the negative effects on cooperation of the prisoner's dilemma game.

Fourth, Ostrom's design principles can be helpful here. A network such as ICLEI could be designed to provide a forum for local governments to engage in a participatory process to create rules for emission of GHG. The rules would be specific instead of generic, and as all cities would participate in their creation, local issues and answers could be brought into consideration. The network itself could provide a monitoring system, where collection of data and estimates could be undertaken collectively. A gradual sanctioning system could be used, which makes it more probable for users to accept it. One of the most important aspects is the installation of a mechanism for conflict resolution. The network could provide a mechanism that, through the consent of all members, could engage in sanctioning activity and conflict resolution. Lastly, the network could allow for a multi-layer approach, integrating agreements and treaties made on the global, regional, and national level; as well as, integrating different levels where the issues are best approached, for example, regional, national, or transnational activities; and also, integrating different issues. The issues that are most pressing for one city might be unimportant for another. The needs of developed and developing regions can be quite different, and a participatory framework within a voluntary network such as the ICLEI could be helpful to create an understanding between actors.

In conclusion, it is necessary to mention that the ICLEI cannot circumvent restrictions in local jurisdiction. The seventh of Ostrom's design principles, which states that a minimum of government recognition is crucial, is key here and certainly out of control for the network. However, the network might help to spread policies to other levels above the local government.


V Concluding Discussion

A central tenet of this paper is that the classical solution to environmental degradation through taxes and possibly government regulation, based on monetary values, is insufficient. In accordance with Coase and institutional economics, it is believed that there are costs and benefits to actions not easily measured or compared in monetary terms. These costs and benefits are best incorporated into the decision-making process by allowing it to be participatory and local. To avoid corporatism and that certain more powerful actors get excessive influence, it is recognized that the government still plays a crucial role as a mediator. It is also believed that just privatizing the environment is insufficient to avoid environmental degradation in a world where there are transaction costs to every economic process. Instead, the 'middle way', presented by Ostrom (1990), of users themselves organizing the use of the common resource seems as a possible alternative.

Brought forward here, is the idea of local government as an adequate level for actions to prevent environmental degradation. However, local level governance of the environment encounters two sets of problems. First, the local government might be financially, institutionally, and jurisdictionally insufficient. And second, when it comes to global commons, such as the atmosphere, local governments are caught in a prisoner's dilemma, held back by the lack of communication, exchange of knowledge, clear commitments, and mechanisms for sanctioning and monitoring compliance. Both these challenges can be met by a non-governmental network between local level authorities. Empirical evidence shows that local level governments are willing to take action to mitigate climate change. The reasons for this are not clear. However, it seems like a network between local governments can help remove obstacles and give incentives for cooperation.

Moreover, a network between local authorities can help proliferate successful policies to other local, as well as national and global, institutions. Type 2 multi-level governance, as described by Hooghe and Marks (2003), has a high degree of flexibility making it easier to implement environmental policies faster. Furthermore, as Smajgl (2010) demonstrates in the Indonesian case, multi-level governance can help challenge unwarranted beliefs by increasing local stakeholder participation in decision-making. A network could help both to challenge beliefs and to inform people about what and where decisions are being made, and how to participate in the process.


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