Social innovation, sustainability and the governance of protected areas: revealing theory as it plays out in practice in Costa Rica

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Abstract

Protected areas (PAs) are social-ecological systems (SES) and are contested spaces. The challenges in governing PAs call for a governance system that works with human-nature relations and is capable of adapting to each PA. This necessitates innovative processes and adaptive governance. This paper contributes to the discussion on adaptive governance in SES by offering empirical evidence from Costa Rica on how the processes of social innovation occur in practice. We discuss the evolving governance of the Juan Castro Blanco National Water Park, particularly the contribution of a local association that drives conservation and management of the park. We show that social mobilisation caused social innovation, which was revealed by the achievement of three interconnected process outcomes: satisfaction of interests; effective socio-political arrangements; and empowerment. The socially-innovative governance of the park has contributed to sustainability and to social-ecological change at many levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2255-2272
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Environmental Planning and Management
Volume62
Issue number13
Early online date28-Jan-2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10-Nov-2019

Keywords

  • social innovation
  • social-ecological systems
  • social sustainability
  • protected area management
  • common-pool resources
  • ADAPTIVE GOVERNANCE
  • BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION
  • SOCIOECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS
  • ECOLOGICAL SYSTEMS
  • RESILIENCE
  • GUANACASTE
  • PRINCIPLES
  • MANAGEMENT
  • SPACES

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