Ecosystem accounting’s potential to support coastal and marine governance
Peer reviewed, Journal article
MetadataShow full item record
Original versionMarine Policy. 2020, 112, 103758. 10.1016/j.marpol.2019.103758
The paper presents an exploratory assessment of ecosystem accounting's potential to support marine and coastal governance. Norwegian kelp forest management and restoration, and a series of nested case studies are used as examples. By analysing a series of institutional experiments where ecosystem accounting (EA) can potentially be applied, and by including the theoretical lens of evolutionary governance, EA is found potentially valuable. It can enhance transparency in governance, elucidate material dependencies, and link stocks and flows of natural resources with a broad spectrum of ecosystem services and values. EA nevertheless has to be considered as one tool among many others. Its use in a particular context can be best assessed when it is understood as being embedded in governance configurations which are in continuous transmutation. Different governance configurations will also shape the effectiveness of the tools. The linkages between EA, policy articulation and implementation should be considered in their complexity. It is argued that pure transparency does not exist, that neutrality of accounting tools is a fiction, and that the potential of EA is shaped by the governance context. At the same time, EA enables the discerning of new narratives about environmental and social risks, and the conservation potentials. It is argued that when assumptions and goals of EA are already shared within the governance context, the potential use of EA is even greater.