|Title||Moving from sustainable management to sustainable governance of natural resources: The role of social learning processes in rural India, Bolivia and Mali|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2007|
|Authors||Rist S., Chidambaranathan M., Escobar C., Wiesmann U., Zimmermann A.|
|Journal||Journal of Rural Studies|
|Keywords||communicative action, natural resource management, social learning approach, sustainability, sustainable learning|
Explores social learning as a vehicle for moving beyond ‘resource management’ to a process that renegotiates norms, rules and power relations.
This article proposes the re-contextualisation of ‘sustainable management of natural resources’ to ‘sustainable governance of natural resources,’ with social learning being the process by which this occurs. The discourse around management is viewed as being politically neutralising, whereas placing management within a space that encourages wider societal debate allows actors to deliberate and negotiate established norms, rules and power relations. Social learning is therefore a very specific process in which conditions are created that allow multiple actors and actor groups (and their associated knowledges) to interact in ways that are empowering and communicative and, significantly, to directly target norms, rules and power relations with a view of transformative change. A social learning approach is therefore also a process that emphasises communicative action, more so than strategic action. Case studies from diverse social, political and cultural contexts are used in this article to demonstrate this communicative action in practice, discussing opportunities and constraints.
Issues related to inequalities in power relationships and established institutional rules and norms are often stated as barriers to social learning. This article highlights how the social learning process can be used as the actual vehicle by which these power relations and associated issues are challenged, leading to transformative change in norms and values. Strategic management can have the unintended consequence of limiting options in complex, dynamic systems. Communicative action is a process that helps to encourage diversity, but requires time and effort.