Archive for July, 2020

New Publication on Collaboration to Improve Environmental Outcomes

The PECS working group on Collaborative Governance has a new publication out that explores how to study the effects of context on collaboration (link here and citation at bottom of post).  Working with researchers from a dozen countries around the globe, we have been analyzing how commonly outlined “success factors” to achieve improved outcomes to environmental dilemmas are mediated by context.

We wanted to see the differences between:

  • grassroots (bottom-up) and government mandated (top-down) collaborations,
  • well-funded projects and those boot-strapping it,
  • projects in a developing context in contrast to a more developed locale,
  • and many others.

We developed a straightforward Context-Mechanism-Outcome (CMO) framework as shown below with an example:


Figure 1 in the published manuscript

Our manuscript came from struggling with shortcomings in the research that, in aggregate, often focused on mechanisms and outcomes without discussing the importance of context.  Meta-analyses and other studies often assess Ostrom’s Design Principles and their effects on environmental outcomes or the importance of social learning or leadership (or…) on collaborative goals.  However, many neglect to discuss the importance of context.  Or rather, they mention the importance of context and then ignore it in the analyses.  In the same way that neoclassical macroeconomic analyses often outline a series of unrealistic assumptions (rational actors, perfect information, etc) and then proceed with the analysis and findings without returning to these assumptions to see the actual validity of the findings, we find many of these studies to be interesting but not satiating.  Similarly, we see the importance of context often showing up in case studies of collaboration with little effort to generalize or broaden the findings beyond the idiosyncratic situation of case under study.

This paper is only a first step in our research program.  We have another paper under review that builds on this framework to conduct comparative case analyses across four cases. Another in the works uses a recently completed codebook based upon the framework in this paper to use Qualitative Comparative Analysis across a dozen cases to further elucidate the mediation of contextual variables in collaborative environmental governance.  We hope that as we learn more and study a wider variety of cases, we can contribute to our understanding of collaborations and improve them in practice.

Cockburn, J., M. Schoon, G. Cundill, C. Robinson, J. A. Aburto, S. M. Alexander, J. A. Baggio, C. Barnaud, M. Chapman, M. Garcia Llorente, G. A. García-López, R. Hill, C. Ifejika Speranza, J. Lee, C. L. Meek, E. Rosenberg, L. Schultz and G. Thondhlana. 2020. Understanding the context of multifaceted collaborations for social-ecological sustainability: a methodology for cross-case analysis. Ecology and Society 25 (3):7. [online] URL:

New webinar on gender and power in collaborative environmental governance

Hi All!

I wanted to share the recording of a webinar by Florian Clement that builds on last month’s webinar on power and political ecology.  This webinar adds gender to power analysis in environmental governance.  A link to the recording is available here.

Title:  Politicising gender analysis and gendering power analysis in environmental social science

Abstract:  Until a few years ago, I did not consider gender as an analytical concept of major importance in environmental governance research. When I moved to South Asia, the gender inequalities made a deep impression on me, but it still took me a few years before understanding what a feminist perspective could bring to my own research, both from a scientific and praxis perspective. In this talk, I reflect on this personal and scientific route, drawing on my personal experience as a western female researcher and on the research I conducted on women’s empowerment and water development interventions in Nepal.

First, I consider how gender analysis has lost most of its political and critical feminist gist while being mainstreamed in environment and development policies and practices. Then I explain how a critical feminist perspective, rooted in feminist political ecology, has both furthered my own analysis of power in human-environment interactions and supported a better consideration of the social justice implications of my work. To conclude, I see politicising gender analysis and gendering power analysis in environmental social science as closely interlinked and mutually beneficial.

Bio:  Floriane Clement currently works at the research lab DYNAFOR, for the National Research Institute on Agriculture, Food and Environment (INRAE). Her research has focused on agricultural and environmental governance, with a particular interest in understanding what creates gaps between policy intentions and outcomes. She has been conducting multi-level analyses, drawing on institutional analysis, discourse analysis and feminist studies. Theoretically, she has been exploring spaces of dialogue and tensions among institutional analysis, commons studies and (feminist) political ecology.

Before joining DYNAFOR in 2018, she conducted research on forest and land policies in Vietnam, watershed policies in India and water and gender development programmes in Nepal. Her research currently focuses on the implementation of agroecological and agrienvironmental public policies. She mostly draws on qualitative methods but has also used mixed research methods in collaboration with economists and has engaged in participatory action research, combining participatory video with deliberative policy forums.

This is the latest webinar on methodological approaches to studying collaborative governance and management of social-ecological systems as part of the Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS) working group on collaborative governance.

New Webinar on Collaboration and Political Ecology

Hi All!

I wanted to share the recording of a webinar by Gustavo Garcia-Lopez on collaboration, power, and political ecology.  A link to the recording is available here.

Title: Within, against and beyond the state: Political ecologies of collaborative governance of protected areas in Puerto Rico

Abstract:  In this presentation, I discuss some central elements of a political ecology of collaborative governance in the context of the Caribbean territory of Puerto Rico. I use the concept of “within against and beyond the state” to understand community initiatives as part of have positioned themselves in collaborative governance, as part of broader historical movements against colonial and neoliberal patterns of development, and in the attempt to create grassroots alternatives that integrate conservation, eco-development and social justice.

Bio: Gustavo is an engaged scholar from Puerto Rico with a transdisciplinary social-environmental sciences training, building on institutional analysis, environmental policy and planning, and political ecology approaches. His research and practice centers on issues related to grassroots collective action initiatives that seek to advance transformations towards more just and sustainable worlds. His work has been geographically focused in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and most recently in Portugal and Spain, though he also engages in global and transnational comparative analyses. He is currently Assistant Researcher at the Center for Social Studies, University of Coimbra (funded by the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation- FCT under the Individual Scientific Stimulus Program). He also holds the 2019-2021 Prince Claus Chair in Development and Equity at the International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague. Between 2015-2019, he was Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Planning at the University of Puerto Rico- Rio Piedras (currently on leave). Previous to that, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow (Experienced Researcher) in the European Network of Political Ecology, a European Commission-funded Marie Curie International Training Network (MSCA-ITN). He holds a PhD in Public Policy and Political Science from Indiana University-Bloomington (with concentrations in Environmental Policy and Institutional Analysis), a Masters in Environmental Policy from Cambridge University (UK), and a Bachelor in Environmental Sciences and Geography from the University of Puerto Rico- Rio Piedras. He is engaged in various collaborative research-action networks and civil society initiatives related to community-based initiatives for sustainability and environmental justice. He is a member of the Climate Justice Network (, an international collaboration between US and Global South scholars, practitioners and activists on climate justice research and education; and of the Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society’s (PECS) Collaborative Governance Working Group (, which developed comparative research with the aim of understanding and strengthening collaborative ecosystem governance. He is a member of the governing board of JunteGente (, a space of encounters of grassroots movements against disaster capitalism and for another Puerto Rico possible in the aftermath of hurricane Maria; and of Emerge Puerto Rico, an initiative of community-based climate change education for youth-led adaptability and action. And he is co-founding member of the editorial collective of the Undisciplined Environments political ecology blog (


This is the latest webinar on methodological approaches to studying collaborative governance and management of social-ecological systems as part of the Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS) working group on collaborative governance.