The need to reframe sustainable transition process in coastal regions: learning from Transition Management

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Human reliance on marine resources for a multitude of goods and services is under threat. Due to the impact of anthropogenic activities such as agriculture, urban development and fishing, these resources are being degraded. Current management approaches which consider each activity in isolation are unsustainable. Coastal states are increasingly urged to transform their fragmented marine governance regimes, and to implement integrated management approaches. However, to be successful, integrated governance mechanisms, such as marine spatial planning and ecosystem-based management, will involve transformative change of institutions, values and practices. Although ‘integration’ is commonly championed as an important normative attribute of marine management by academics, policymakers and environmental groups, it is often done with little consideration of the complexity of institutional context in which a shift to new management approaches takes place. This paper reviews the most cited academic papers in the field of marine governance, showing that most overlook many of the key institutional challenges to integration, often derived from issues such as incumbency, path dependency and policy layering. While integrated management approaches have a normative capacity to fundamentally transform marine governance, the failure to understand the institutional dynamics that may impede effective implementation, leaves much of the research in this field naively impotent. There is a need, therefore, to develop a more realistic understanding of the context in which transformative change takes place. We argue that Transition Management has the potential to both conceptualise and operationalise strategies to address these barriers based on a long term perspective of participation, visioning and experimentation.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2018
EventAmerican Association of Geographers Annual Conference - New Orleans, United States
Duration: 10 Apr 201814 Apr 2018


ConferenceAmerican Association of Geographers Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleAAG Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityNew Orleans
Internet address


  • Transformative change
  • integrated marine governance
  • MSP
  • transition management


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