Governance of Natural Resources: Uncovering the Social Purpose of Materials in Nature

  • Edited by Jin Sato

    1228 Sato-Gov&NatResources-Final_FRONT_Cover_web
    ISBN-13: 978-92-808-1228-2
    United Nations University Press
    August 2013

    Scholarly communities and policy experts have a tendency to divide natural resources into categories, hindering holistic understanding. Similarly, the stakeholders themselves – the state, business and people – are conceived monolithically, making it difficult to grasp how business interests, intra-bureaucratic politics and civil society movements influence policy outcomes.

    This book examines the socio-political dynamic generated by the environment and its attendant resources: how nature becomes a resource, and how this process in turn shapes our vision of society. It deploys a case study approach in examining the interactions between bureaucratic institutions; rural communities; national leaders and business elites, allowing for a more nuanced analysis. Particular emphasis is placed on how resources become the subject of conflict – but also opportunities for cooperation – and how different societies might establish more sustainable interactions with nature.

    The way society controls natural resources is the foundation of both economic development and environmental conservation. The primary motive for natural resource management has been the development and production of marketable commodities, and institutional structures have been shaped accordingly. The Social Constitution of Natural Resources asks that we re-consider the very concept of resources, and how we view them.

    This book will primarily be of interest to professionals – particularly development practitioners – and academics but all those who have a keen interest in environmental issues will find much to recommend. Graduate courses on environmental management should also find this useful as a source book.

    About the Editor:

    Jin Sato is Associate Professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia, The University of Tokyo.

    Table of Contents:

    Introduction: Towards the dynamic analysis of resources, Jin Sato
    State inaction in resource governance: Natural resource control and
    bureaucratic oversight in Thailand, Jin Sato
    Natural resource governance in Latin America, William Ascher
    Domestic politics and environmental standards: China’s policy-making
    process for regulating vehicle emissions, Eri Saikawa
    People and business in the appropriation of Cambodia’s forests, Andrew Robert Cock
    Incomplete mechanisms for conflict resolution: The case of Mt Pulag National Park, Philippines, Masahide Horita and Doreen Allasiw
    Participation and diluted stakes in river management in Japan: The challenge of alternative constructions of resource governance, Naruhiko Takesada
    Distribution of mineral resources in Zambia: A longitudinal analysis of the mining community,
    Michiko Ishisone
    Post-growth community development and rediscovery of resources: A case of rural regeneration in a Japanese mountain village, Naofumi Suzuki
    Fishermen’s plantations as a way of resource governance in Japan, Tomohiro Oh

  • “This book addresses an essential topic in the study of the relations between people and nature: natural resource governance. In contrast to much other work on the topic, it does not take natural resource as given but shows how nature is turned into ‘natural resources’ as part of the very social processes constituting governance. Concepts of nature and definitions of natural resources are just as political as questions about the means (e.g. market-based instruments versus regulation) and levels of governance (e.g. centralized versus decentralized forms). Thus the book achieves to establish crucial connections to research on the social constitution of resources in environmental history and science and technology studies.

    The book advances the critical concept of natural resources as ‘bundles of possibilities’. It navigates intelligently between the two schools of environmental determinism and the social construction of nature to demonstrate how natural resources and governance constitute each other recursively. The state, in particular, has often been established historically in close conjunction with the ambition to either exploit or manage natural resources. Yet, as the book rightly argues, natural resource governance goes much beyond the state, and often involves various branches of the state in an uneasy relationship with each other. Disjunctures within the state, between the state and other institutions of governance, and between existing governance arrangements and natural processes make natural resource governance inherently dynamic.

    The book employs this exciting conceptual framework to cover an impressive range of conditions in which natural resource governance takes place worldwide, presenting analyses of the transport sector, forests, protected areas, river management, minerals and fisheries from Africa, Asia and Latin America.

    Thomas Sikor, Professor of Environment and Development at the University of East Anglia, UK

    “Jin Sato has assembled an excellent collection of case studies and put together an important core argument around the interplay between resources and political economy. Using examples from several continents, this book goes beyond the many texts that take the term ‘governance’ for granted. Rather, it both makes and supersedes the important – but well-established – point that resources are not just material facts; rather, materials become resources through human uses and social, economic and political interactions around them. It goes further by showing that resources are, in turn, themselves constitutive of power and politics. This is an important contribution to the broad scholarly fields of natural resource governance and political ecology, and it also has significant messages at the level of policy and practice.”

    Philip Hirsch, Professor of Human Geography and Director of the Mekong Research Group (AMRC) at the University of Sydney