New SHAPE report: Governance structures in SHAs

An in-depth SHAPE report of the state of the art on the topic of governance structures in Sustainable Heritage Areas has been produced by UHI. The report reviews relevant academic literature and technical reports and includes the findings of an online survey on the governance of biosphere reserves in the NordMAB region to contribute their knowledge and experiences of the establishment, governance and management of their Biosphere Reserves.

This SHAPE report focuses on the governance of Sustainable Heritage Areas (SHAs) and is intended to guide the reader through an understanding of the practice of governance, towards its application in their own SHA.

There are many different definitions of governance, but none is widely agreed. This can make it difficult to understand and analyse governance, so the SHAPE Governance Steering Group decided to use this definition: “the structures and processes that determine how power is exerted, how decisions are taken and how stakeholders are included.”

SHAs have many different models of governance. Traditional hierarchical forms are still in use in some areas, while in others new collaborative forms are blurring the boundaries between the state and civil society, as well as between public and private. The second chapter of the literature review describes these models as applied to governance of various types of SHA: UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Biosphere Reserves, and Global Geoparks; Natura 2000 sites; National Parks, Regional Parks, private conservation areas/privately protected areas, public-private partnerships, and commons.

The report explores some of the key issues and challenges in SHA governance: sustainability, securing funding and resources, ensuring effective stakeholder participation, managing conflict, and working towards good branding and communications.

Principles of good governance providing guidance for the establishment, best practice, and evaluation of governance processes are also reviewed. These principles of good governance include: participation/ Inclusiveness, rule of law, transparency, performance/responsiveness, conflict management/consensus orientation, fairness/equity, efficiency and effectiveness/ capability, accountability, direction/strategic vision, legitimacy, resilience/adaptability, communication/ connectivity, integration, and learning mechanisms. 

Report: Governance structures in SHAs