Right kind of collaboration is key to solving environmental problems

Public Release: 18-Aug-2017

From Eurekalert

It must have not been “the right kind of” collaboration in the past.  Rotten collaboration? ~ctm

Stockholm University

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IMAGE: The ability to solve environmental problems is connected to the way different actors collaborate, says a new study. view more Credit: Andreas Altenburger/Mostphotos

 

The coming decade may determine whether humanity will set a course toward a more socially and ecologically sustainable society. A crucial part of this goal is to develop a better understanding of how cooperation can be improved and become more effective, both within and among private stakeholders and public institutions.

“Collaborative governance is often highlighted as a solution to different environmental problems. For example, when small-scale fishermen agree to avoid overfishing or when states agree to reduce greenhouse gases. But we don’t know so much about how cooperation around environmental issues works in a complex world. Different actors want different things, different environmental problems are related to each other, and different groups have differing amounts of influence. Does cooperation actually lead to a better environment?” says Örjan Bodin, lecturer at the Stockholm Resilience Centre who conducts interdisciplinary research on better ways to handle diverse environmental problems.

One way to delve into these questions has been to study how different collaborative initiatives have engaged different actors and how these actors have chosen to work with each other. An ‘actor’ can be an individual, like a fisherman, but it can also be a city, business, non-profit or a country. Through studying these collaborative networks we develop a better understanding of how actors, both as a group and as individuals, act when confronted with different environmental problems.

“Our research shows that the ability to solve environmental problems is in part connected to the way these networks are structured – the patterns of collaboration between actors”, says Örjan Bodin.

The research shows that certain patterns are more suitable for solving different types of shared problems. For example, if the problem implies a high risk of actor free-riding on others’ efforts, the situation is improved by tightly linking the actors together. This could mean that two actors who cooperate with the same, third actor should also cooperate directly with each other, forming a triangle of cooperation.

“It also makes a difference whether the environmental problem is temporary or more permanent. If it’s temporary it can be more effective to have a cooperative network with a clearly chosen coordinator or leader to hold it together”, says Örjan Bodin.

The study also shows how the ability to solve problems even depends on how a network ‘aligns’ with the structures and processes found in the affected ecosystem. This means, for example, that if two actors deal with two different yet interconnected parts of the ecosystem they should work together.

“A good socio-ecological ‘fit’ would increase the possibilities of effectively solving environmental problems. So, for example, the development of sustainable fishing could be helped if two fishermen who fish for the same species collaborate with each other”, says Örjan Bodin.

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More information: The article “Collaborative environmental governance: Achieving collective action in social-ecological systems” is published in the journal Science and can be read here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aan1114

Contact: Örjan Bodin, ph: +46 (0) 703 41 01 21, email: orjan.bodin@stockholmresilience.su.se

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.

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66 thoughts on “Right kind of collaboration is key to solving environmental problems

  1. It surprises me that people like this can get from one end of a street to the other, let alone solve “environmental problems”.

    • So far ‘these people’ saved the whales, got unleaded petrol, stopped the ozone hole, saved birds of prey from the effects of DDT, stopped acid rain, banned dioxins, in Europe gave us seas free of sewage pollution and so on.

      • Great! Could you ask “these people” to turn their efforts toward reducing the avian carnage caused by wind turbines?

      • DDT?! Any idea how many people the DDT ban has killed? Shouldn’t be difficult to find a lot of debunking of the ‘bird of pray eggshell problem’ – but wait: we don’t want too many people to live, do we…..

      • Trebla

        apart from 1980s style multiple lattice tower turbine designs like Altamont Pass, there is not now and has not been a significant problem with birds and turbines.

        In the UK more birds of prey are shot illegally than hit turbines (a mercifully low number)

        figures you see are extrapolated from a single badly designed/sited windfarm to all windfarms

      • Yes Bruce, really.

        If you want to get pedantic ‘stopped it growing and becoming a serious problem’

      • And they did all this just by talking in incomprehensible English! Do you also believe in the tooth fairy?

      • Fossil fuel saved the whales. We stopped hunting whales when we found a fossil fuel replacement for whale fat. You people are such narcissists. Heroes in your own minds.

    • In Sweden it is possible for a pedestrian to cross a street without bothering about the traffic, as the p. are protected by the law, regardless of the situation …

      But in the end, no law in the world can protect anyone from being hit by a vehicle, when jaywalking …

      • “Collaborative governance is often highlighted as a solution to different environmental problems But we don’t know so much about how cooperation around environmental issues works in a complex world. Different actors want different things, different environmental problems are related to each other, and different groups have differing amounts of influence. Does cooperation actually lead to a better environment?” says Örjan Bodin, lecturer at the Stockholm Resilience Centre

        Counting the number of NO-GO Zones in Sweden, lecturer Bodin will not have to worry about cooperation, Muslims will be telling them how it will be. Ever wonder how Stockholm Syndrome got its name.

      • The increasing number …

        We don’t have the word ‘problem’ in our language anymore. ‘Challenge’ are used instead … At least according to our Prime Ignorance Minister. Probably due to that he is challenged …

  2. “A crucial part of this goal is to develop a better understanding of how cooperation can be improved and become more effective, both within and among private stakeholders and public institutions.”
    Hey, I know , how about we villify all those who do not agree we us, insult them and assimilate them with holocaust deniers and generally be as unpleasant as possible. There are sure to crack under the pressure, give in , and decide to come over to our way of thinking.
    Alternatively, we could try the Antifa method of spraying chilli pepper in their eyes and smashing them over the head with steel bike locks.
    Hey, why change a winning team?

  3. This could mean that two actors who cooperate with the same, third actor should also cooperate directly with each other, forming a triangle of cooperation.

    So, for example, the development of sustainable fishing could be helped if two fishermen who fish for the same species collaborate with each other”,

    No shyt ,sherlock !

    Someone actually gets paid to sit down , write and publish this kind of banality ?

    This could have been thought up by a nine year old.

    • “So, for example, the development of sustainable fishing could be helped if two fishermen who fish for the same species collaborate with each other”,”
      How about if they openly compete for the fish instead?
      Collaboration only promotes deceit and suspicion and is the hallmark of socialist ideological proposals. Competition might not be ideal, but it’s a damn site better than the alternatives.

    • Why do they always bring actors into the debate, we have seen over the last few years the idiocy of the whole Hollywood attention seeking industry up close.

  4. “Collaborativist environmental government: Achieving collectivist action in socialist-ecological systems”

    Is that what they are trying to say?

    • Greg
      The ‘socialist’ bit is spot on.
      The rest of us should die – or, at best, be bonded-folk, that is labourers or concubines.
      And with nearly unlimited concubinage, watch the population soar again . . . . . .

      The (self-elected) elite will be fine, for a bit.

      Auto, happy to avoid this – if it ever comes – by expiring at three-score and ten. Or perhaps a few more. Perhaps.

  5. Read the abstract. There is nothing that would induce me to pay to read the rest. Does being published in Science absolve the authors of the duty of including any science in their paper?

  6. “… for example, the development of sustainable fishing could be helped if two fishermen who fish for the same species collaborate with each other”

    Isn’t this illegal? In the US anyway. It’s called “price fixing”.

    • This is more along the lines of Iceland and Great Britain coming together on an agreement, not a bunch of guys sailing out of Nantucket.

  7. I suppose it would be possible to write a more inane, insipid article that seems to believe that one can solve a problem by “cooperating” even though one does not even know whether a problem really exists, and if one does exist, no solution is apparent. Apparently ants can solve math problems by cooperating.

    • arthur4563

      I have never believed ant’s cooperate. They compete, like any other living organism, down to bacteria. The survival of the fittest, the weak will die and the herd maintains it’s strength by the fittest breeding and producing strong offspring.

    • The ant you see walking across the table is not an individual. It’s the equivalent of a blood cell. Ants by nature are colonies, usually headed by one queen. They compete by one colony against another, having wars in hard time, preying(colonies one on another) killing the others “bits”, the ones we see walking around.

      “Clearly, no single blueprint exists for how to succeed by using collaborative approaches to solve environmental problems. ” I declined to go through the paywall, but the quote captures the ambiguity in the abstract and extended abstract. Trying to abstract retail politics at a more refined level, and succeeding only in producing and multivalent(tm) mush. Astonishing that different groups of people work through problems in different ways.

      • “The ant you see walking across the table is not an individual. It’s the equivalent of a blood cell. Ants by nature are colonies, usually headed by one queen. ”

        Actually the are a (nuclear) family with a lot of sisters. Ants (and a number of other insects) have a genetic peculiarity that makes them more closely related to their siblings than to their offspring. This makes it more evolutionary effective to help their mother have more children, than having children of their own. All strictly selfish of course.

  8. As long as there’s money to rake in the game, ridiculous taxes to be be cooked up, easy funds to be obtainable for lunatic projects, there will never be a collaboration.

  9. “I notice that young men go to the universities in order to become doctors or philosophers or anything, so long as it is a title, and that many go in for those professions who are utterly unfit for them, while others who would be very competent are prevented by business or their daily cares, which keep them away from letters.” – Galileo Galilei

    true today as it was some 400 years ago.

      • “we have peace in Europe and a less polluted environment”

        And yet the Austrians have just moved troops and light armour to the Austro-Italian border, other Eastern European countries have closed their borders and instituted armed patrols, nearly 400 have been killed by Jihadi attacks in the past twelve months or so and a large contingent of NATO forces is carrying out provocative activities on Russia’s borders.

        Then we are informed that the burning of biofuels in Drax not only does not reduce CO2 output but releases a quantity of particulates equal to a significant proportion of that put out by the unjustly maligned diesel vehicles.

        Not to mention the number of whale deaths increasingly attributed to off-shore windfarm construction and operation.

        For starters.

        Tell us, have you apologised to to Dr. Crockford for maliciously lying about her scientific credentials yet?

      • You’ve got a bit of a problem with trucks and vans though. Not to mention knives.
        I wish it weren’t that way, a peaceful Europe is in everyone’s interest.

      • catweazle – the EU did not cause jihadism (though I think the US certainly had a hand in increasing it) and the border security is not a function of having an European wide govt.

        We have not got wars between European states – something we are only to aware of with this year’s WW1 anniversaries… and I pass buildings still showing the scars of WW2 bombs every day on my way to work

      • Griffie, you are welcome to visit our beautiful multicultural peaceful swedish towns. But you better know which ones not to visit if you want to get out in one piece (or even alive).

      • Well my country does not have campus, school, cinema etc mass shooting from people who’ve gone bats with freely available automatic weapons…

        My point is that at the international level, govts work together instead of invading each other.

      • “Well my country does not have campus, school, cinema etc mass shooting from people who’ve gone bats with freely available automatic weapons…”
        Dunblane mean anything to you?
        Or Hungerford?
        What about Derrick Bird in Cumbria and Robert Sartin in Monkseaton??

      • Last i heard Germany is still a European nation, with increasing lignite burning power generation stations to augment the failing Solar and Wind generation fiasco.

  10. This just shows the intractability of the Global warming issue(?). Basically these communication/cooperation ideas start with a poorly developed, data free, proponent gatekeeper mentality toward thoughtful dissent on an imminent disaster billed as an unquestioned given. If it were, there would be broad support. Mosher or Gavin or Mann, NOAA, NASA and whatever UCAR/? calls itself today, I’m not one of those climate деиуег folks.

    Please tell me in simple terms, what is your unequivocal evidence for what I should be worried about? Apparently more hurricanes, tornadoes, accelerating SLR are not happening yet. Your predictions on temperature rise are less than a third of observation even with Karlization of temps, just before retirement of Karl. He took one for the team and even he’s surprized how brief was the Pause relief. It’s speeding back even with the constructed hump it had to get over.

    If you can’t do this, at least tell us what is holding it back? You’ve left Hansen’s 1988 projection for 2100 and 30% of the time has elapsed, most of which has been during a Pause in temperature rise despite over 30% increase in CO2 during it.

    You all know now that we have an unexpected massive natural sequestration of carbon in the biospere that’s coincident with the pause and on land alone its increased forest cover by 14% in a decade. With 3trillion trees on earth, that’s 420B new ones plus fattening up the existing ones. And, horrors of horrors it’s exponential in growth and photosynthesis is endothermic – cooling!

    I’m still willing to listen but bring your A team.

    • Nice comment Gary.
      In my view it matters whether you are being asked to collaborate in a scientific endeavor or you are being asked to collude in a scam to deceive people and squander their money on a non-problem.

  11. I initially wanted to make quips about the banality of the text, but I was beaten to it by the rest of y’all. Therefore I will make a different tack.

    This paper is advocating the creation of monopolies and cartels. If taken to its logical extreme, what it is suggesting is at best illegal and at worst a easy road for robber barons to take advantage of people.

  12. “Although collaborative approaches to environmental governance are increasingly advocated, a better understanding of if and how multiactor collaboration in interlinked social-ecological systems is able to effectively address various environmental problems is urgently needed.” Text next to a photo showing “Small-scale fishermen preparing their nets. “

    I have a degree in fisheries and taught Environmental Assessment and Management. I do not understand this statement and would like to see their references. I would also like to know if they knew about these references from back in the days of real science solving real problems, among others, including some recent,– Holling, C. S. 1973. Resilience and stability of ecological systems. Annual Reviews of Ecology and Systematics. 4:1-23. Holling, C. S. (Editor). 1978. Adaptive Environmental Assessment and Management. Wiley–Interscience. 377pp. He posits three concepts, fragility (ephemeral), resilient (survival), and joker (hard to predict). One wonders who the joker is these days.

    There is also a 1948 symposium on fisheries problems, exponentially better than this millennium’s US government report considering it ‘warranted’ to consider the eastern (Virginia) oyster under the Endangered Species Act. After considerable study, at least they decided not to list it. But back in 1948 they weren’t drowning in journals and computers couldn’t simulate oysters.

  13. My idea:

    – Make energy cheap for everyone
    – As people, prosper – so does the environment

    Someone please give me a do nothing psuedo-academic job that pays six figures, and Ill attend conferences pushing the idea.

    • He is an associate professor at the “Stockholm Resilience Center”, which is sort of a Swedish equivalent of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research, but on steroids and without any hard science whatsoever. Only this morning his boss Johan Rockström claimed on Swedish TV that the sea level will rise 3 meters (10 feet) to 2100.

  14. It seems to me these issues have been already studied in depth (see ie. games theory and the studies on the tragedy of the commons). This paper is the rediscovery of hot water with an environmentalist twist.

  15. Liberals define bi-partisanship as Republicans and Democrats working together to pass the Democrats agenda.

    • Many European countries don’t have the sharp right/left political divide and have for decades built govts of various political shades in cooperative coalitions… not any worse governed than UK/US as far as I can see (except Italy, the exception proving the rule!)

      • That’s because almost all of the Western democracies have drifted very far to the left over the last 50 years. And not by accident either. Those “various political shades” are all shades of socialism and communism. It’s easy for socialists to make coalitions with other socialists, and everything looks great – that is, until you run out of other people’s money, or the Muslims come knocking…

      • “Many European countries don’t have the sharp right/left political divide”

        Jeremy Corbyn…

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