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Does business as usual still make politics as usual? Prospects for sustainably managing freshwater resources as a CPR in Canterbury, New Zealand ≈ P.A. Memon, Lincoln University, New Zealand John W. Selsky, University of South Florida Lakeland, USA Presented at GIN2007

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Does business as usual still make politics as usual? Prospects for sustainably managing

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Does business as usual still make politics as usual prospects for sustainably managing

Does business as usual

still make politics as usual?

Prospects for sustainably managing

freshwater resources

as a CPR in Canterbury, New Zealand

P.A. Memon, Lincoln University, New Zealand

John W. Selsky, University of South Florida Lakeland, USA

Presented at GIN2007

Waterloo, Ontario, June 2007


General context managing fresh water

General context: managing fresh water

  • Challenge in both developed & developing countries

  • Increases in demand – population rises, development pressures, changing market economics

  • Compromised quantity and quality of supply

  • Governments attempt to deal with these challenges through their regulatory apparatuses.

  • New Zealand at forefront of innovation in natural resource management since passage of innovative Resource Management Act (RMA) in 1991.


Exploratory case study canterbury region new zealand

Exploratory case study – Canterbury region, New Zealand

  • First phase - ‘prospected’ a case of a rapid increase in dairy farming in Canterbury and its impact on the management of fresh water resources during 1991-2001.

  • Diagnostic analysis published (Memon & Selsky 2004)

  • Stakeholders:

    • Fonterra

    • Environment Canterbury

    • Farmers

    • Fish & Game Council; Forest & Bird Society

    • Maori

    • Other – national Ministry of Ag & Fish; research institutions; etc.


First phase findings

First phase findings

  • Rapid increase in dairying associated with increasing pressure on water resources, quality degradation, social conflict

  • implementation gap in application of RMA to freshwater resources

  • condition of ‘business as usual makes politics as usual’ in political economy of Canterbury

  • RMA has transformative potential alternative solution paths possible:

    • “transformative change in the relationships among the private sector, the public sector and civil society”

    • “transformative change in each stakeholder’s and each sector’s relationship to natural resources”


Trajectory for the case

trajectory for the case

  • Unless concrete steps are taken soon to resolve water allocation conflicts, the social, economic and environmental consequences will de-generate into one of the classic scenarios in the literature on exploited commons, namely, a tragedy of de facto open access (see Selsky & Creahan 1996).

  • A working hypothesis going into second phase of case study.


Second phase 2001 05 research questions

Second phase (2001-05) – research questions

  • Has the implementation gap persisted during 2001-05? How has it changed?

  • Has the condition ‘business as usual makes politics as usual’ persisted? How has it changed?

  • Has there been any evidence of either alternative solution path? Can these paths be made more operational?


Ecology of issues

Ecology of issues

  • Dairying in Canterbury

  • Project Aqua

  • Lake Tekapo water allocation issue - Meridian Energy vs Aoraki Water Trust

  • Central Plains Water scheme

  • Fonterra Clean Streams Accord

  • Environment Canterbury regional water plans

  • Rangitata River water conservation order

  • Ngai Tahu and water issues


Second phase findings

Second phase findings

  • implementation gap?

    • In general, persisted. RMA still being used to protect/sustain private property rights, not common property rights.

  • ‘business as usual makes politics as usual’?

    • Same as it ever was. No new force to deflect neo-Gramscian alignment between Fonterra and ECan.

    • Use of ‘neoliberal toolkit’

    • Continued, if not accelerated, degradation of groundwater and surface water


  • Findings cont d

    Findings – cont’d.

    • evidence of either alternative solution path?

      • Appears to be intensification of the earlier dynamics

      • Humble evidence:

        • Civil society has won a few skirmishes (Project Aqua, Lake Tekapo), but continues to lose the war to Fonterra

        • Fonterra now recognizes its environmental responsibilities due to European market pressures.

        • But NZ dairy farmers continue to see no problem, see themselves as guardians of the countryside/environment


    Analysis points of hope

    Analysis & ‘points of hope’

    • Situation not adequate because it is now less likely to deliver sustainable ecosystems.What can be done?

    • implementation gap?

      ☼ strengthen the consultation provisions and platforms for consensus building in the RMA

      ☼ retire those ECan staff with old and inappropriate mindsets and replace them with staff with a strategic, ecosystemic perspective?

    • ‘business as usual makes politics as usual’?

      ☼ put more faith in the market in terms of changing the mentality of consumers regarding product value. This may in turn inspire/force corporations to alter their practices and their deliverables to their markets.


    Does business as usual still make politics as usual prospects for sustainably managing

    • evidence of either alternative solution path?

      ☼ Focus on institutions. Put more resources into government as an effective counterweight to big business (and big agriculture?). Either negotiate more aggressively on the terms of industry self-regulation, or monitor it more aggressively, or reduce the ambit of self-regulation. Revive/re-position government as the guarantor of the public good.

      ☼ Note:the politics in the application of such new regulation should be unusual!


    Concluding thoughts

    Concluding thoughts

    • This is a bellwether issue for illustrating current state of public resource management vis-à-vis corporate and community interests in NZ.

    • At macro scale this issue mirrors the growing recognition of the challenge of climate change

      • Use of phrase ‘business as usual’ to signal impending climatic catastrophe


    Does business as usual still make politics as usual prospects for sustainably managing

    Source: Christchurch Press, 2003


    Dreck

    dreck

    • Possible growing sense of ‘governmentality’ (Silver et al. 2007) or ‘environmentality’ (Argawal 2005).

    • [drop?] Examples of potential positive effects:

      • they might help stakeholders to transcend adversarial encounters based on private property rights

      • they might help stimulate new action-oriented platforms for sustainable ecosystem management.


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