Social capital and collaborative environmental governance : the case of the Cape West Coast Biosphere

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 15
  • Abstract:

    To cope with the increasing complexities of environmental challenges, innovative models of governance that are capable of greater flexibility, speed and adaptability have emerged. Following international trends, new collaborative partnerships varying greatly in form and purpose have developed over the last 15 years. The Western Cape Province, world renowned for the Cape Floristic Region and one of the world’s 25 most threatened biodiversity hotspots, has also experienced a proliferation of ‘collaboratives’. In an effort to contribute to the knowledge and understanding of building social capital and institutional capacity in these types of governance settings, this article focuses on the evolution of one of the more successful of these new forms – the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve – from an organisational learning perspective before reflecting on the question of whether the concepts of social capital and organisational learning are useful to explain its apparent success. Although the findings are inconclusive, a sufficient number of pointers have emerged from the exploration of the case study to warrant further research on the role of social learning and social capital as explanations of why particular collaboratives seem to be more successful in achieving desirable outcomes than others.