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Who's in charge here anyway? Polycentric governance configurations and the development of policy on invasive alien species in the semisovereign Caribbean

Jetske Vaas, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Peter P. J. Driessen, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Mendel Giezen, Department of Human Geography, Planning, and International Development Studies, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Frank van Laerhoven, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Martin J Wassen, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-09487-220401

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Abstract

We address the development of policy by polycentric governance configurations, taking Caribbean overseas territories and their advancements on invasive alien species (IAS) policy as an example. The British, Dutch, and French islands in the Caribbean address this matter to different degrees, which we analyzed through differences in their type of polycentric governance configuration with their respective European counterpart. We employ a continuum ranging from predominantly polycentric to predominantly monocentric governance configurations to characterize the three case studies. Based on semistructured interviews with government actors, park managers, and NGO employees on Anguilla, Guadeloupe, and St. Eustatius, plus a literature study, we characterize St. Eustatius as highly polycentric and Guadeloupe as becoming increasingly polycentric. Anguilla cannot be considered either of the two, given the virtually absent involvement of the UK. Policy development on IAS showed most progress in Guadeloupe, whereas in Anguilla and St. Eustatius, IAS management is ad hoc. Within these cases, the hampering effect of dispute about the functioning of the configuration was clear. For Guadeloupe, increasing autonomy to decide on policy priorities within a coherent system where standards are set and ample resources made available appears conducive to policy development. That same balance inherent to polycentric systems between autonomy and coherence is hard to strike for St. Eustatius, and currently mainly perceived as a trade-off, hampering policy development. By discussing these three cases, this study illustrates how different polycentric configurations can affect policy development.

Key words

Caribbean overseas territories; governance configurations; invasive alien species; policy development; polycentricity; semisovereign states; subnational island jurisdictions

Copyright © 2017 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087