Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Resource Economics


Sustainable Use of Natural Resources in an Institutional Perspective

Start: 01.09.2009
End: 31.12.2011

In China, problems of resource degradation and environmental pollution have increased considerably due to particular scarcity of natural resources (land-man ratio = 0.1) and rapid economic growth. The Chinese Government is well aware of this situation and is looking for feasible and effective solutions. Usually, typical attributes of ecosystems such as jointness and lacking separability, coherence and complexity require institutional diversity and polycentric governance. Accordingly, the following research questions are raised against the background of strong hierarchies and centralized decision making: (1i) What are the main areas regarding natural resource management and environmental regulation, what institutions and governance structures are in place, and do they need to be changed? (ii) What sets of rules and forms of organisation would be instrumental for achieving a favourable state of diversity of institutions and polycentricity of governance? (iii) How can a process of transformation towards this end be organised in an efficient way that is acceptable for the actors involved? To explore future opportunities for analysing the questions mentioned above the Project focuses on three work packages: (1) Pollution of water and soil which usually requires centrally designed command and control policies and well functioning bureaucracies and agencies. (2) Water management and watershed governance where decentralization and participation are useful to adapt to local conditions and to meet the needs of the people. (3) Land management and soil degradation which require a multi-faceted resource allocation and conservation strategy that consists of a combination of technical measures and nested systems of rules and arrangements. These work packages are dealt with by exploring typical cases which reflect main settings and problems as regards resource attributes and pollution characteristics, action arenas and action situations, institutions and governance structures.

Researchers: Lars Berger, Dr. Violeta Dirimanova, Renate Judis

Project Partner:

Lead: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Konrad Hagedorn

Funding: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)