The University of Arizona

Perceived barriers to effective multilevel governance of human-natural systems: an analysis of Marine Protected Areas in Vietnam

Thu Van Trung Ho, Alison Cottrell, Peter Valentine, Simon Woodley


This study of multilevel governance in contemporary Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Vietnam used a qualitative methodology to identify the factors that cause fragmentation of governance structures, leading to ineffective management and governance of these MPAs. These factors relate to formal institutions, socio-economic conditions and social capital. The study reveals different barriers to effective governance at different levels. Socio-economic conditions affect the participation of local communities, whereas formal institutional arrangements are major barriers to the collaboration between state-actors across sectors. Mutual trust, communication and reciprocity may nurture and foster participation and collaboration by actors in the multilevel governance of MPAs. The article stresses the importance of social capital in multilevel governance of human-natural systems. It concludes that the existing institutional structure of MPAs may require reforms to achieve more effective governance and to meet the overall goals of the national MPA network.

Keywords: environmental governance, institutions, natural resource management, Marine Protected Areas, human-environment systems, Vietnam

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