Nodes and Networks in the Governance of Ecosystem-based Adaptation: The Case of the Bergrivier Municipality, South Africa

14 Aug 2017 - 10:30

Nodes and networks in the governance of ecosystem-based adaptation: the case of the Bergrivier municipality, South Africa is a new journal article co-authored by Lorena Pasquini, a Senior Researcher in the Fulcrum Institutions project. This article is published in the Climatic Change journal in its latest edition. 

Ziervogel, G., Pasquini, L. & Haiden, S. (2017) Nodes and networks in the governance of ecosystem-based adaptation: The case of the Bergrivier municipality, South Africa. Climatic Change. Published online 5 August 2017.


New forms of governance that foster multi-level and collaborative action have been identified as key to climate change adaptation. Ecosystem-based adaptation is emerging as an important type of adaptation response. Despite its recognized promise, it remains a challenging task to conceptualize governance regimes for it because of the involvement of numerous actors across the landscape scale. Both multi-level and collaborative forms of governance are required to involve relevant actors in decision-making and related actions. We explore the applicability of the theory of nodal governance, in conjunction with social network theory, to provide a framework for operationalizing the concepts of multi-level and collaborative governance. We use the Bergrivier municipal area of South Africa as a case study, focusing on organizations (nodes) that have the potential to implement ecosystem-based adaptation. We show that a nodal governance focus on institutional structures, mentalities, technologies, and resources can be highly effective for understanding the factors supporting or constraining ecosystem-based adaptation. A focus on the number and strength of network connections that actors share highlights how the numerous connections between organizations constitute an important opportunity for strengthening ecosystem-based adaptation outcomes in the future.

The analysis suggests that in the Bergrivier municipal area, both agricultural best practices and restoration activities are side-lined compared to other activities (e.g., land use planning) despite the importance of the agricultural sector in the Bergrivier area. We argue that a nodal governance focus, accompanied by the use of social network analysis, can be highly effective for understanding how to improve governance of adaptation at the local level.