How are people around the world rising to the challenges of environmental governance? The case studies that follow explore why it is so difficult to make inclusive and effective decisions about ecosystem use. But they also demonstrate the infinite human creativity, adaptation, and experimentation that can bring success. Each case contains a box that draws out the principal governance lessons that can be learned from the story. Some of these lessons illuminate the power of an informed community, some the difficulties and benefits of integrating economic and environmental goals. Others reflect the tensions between traditional approaches and new ideas, between immediate human need and long-term environmental health, between lofty goals and practical results.
The stories told in these case studies range from the struggles of an indigenous community in South Africa to the nascent efforts toward environmental democracy in Iran. However, they represent only a fraction of the stories that could be told. The lessons they teach are valuable guides to improving environmental governance everywhere, but they also serve to remind us that every situation is unique in its geographic, economic, environmental, social, and cultural make-up. Achieving more equitable and sustainable use of ecosystem goods and services demands patience and a deep understanding of local circumstances, as well as an appreciation of the broad principles explored throughout this book.