Table of Contents

The Challenges of Collaboration in Environmental Governance

The Challenges of Collaboration in Environmental Governance

Barriers and Responses

New Horizons in Environmental Politics series

Edited by Richard D. Margerum and Cathy J. Robinson

Collaborative approaches to governance are being used to address some of the most difficult environmental issues across the world, but there is limited focus on the challenges of practice. Leading scholars from the United States, Europe and Australia explore the theory and practice in a range of contexts, highlighting the lessons from practice, the potential limitations of collaboration and the potential strategies for addressing these challenges.

Chapter 5: Vitality in interactive governance: conditions and challenges

Jurian Edelenbos and Ingmar van Meerkerk

Subjects: environment, energy policy and regulation, environmental governance and regulation, environmental politics and policy, politics and public policy, environmental governance and regulation


This chapter introduces the phrase “vitality mechanisms” which support interactive and collaborative governance and discusses the challenges associated with applying them in practice. Vitality mechanisms refer to the procedural and relational capacity among actors in a network, which the authors suggest is strongly related to governance capacity and relational capacity. Vitality is supported by informal structures or settings that promote interaction among actors, boundary spanning activities that build and activate relationships among actors, constructive dialogue and deliberation among actors, trust to enhance the performance of networks, and institutionalization of relationships that allow ongoing interaction. However, the conditions necessary for supporting vitality also confront challenges related to the interplay between the conditions, the impacts of the evolution of networks over time, and the contextual effects on these conditions.

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