in: Marine Policy (Special Issue ), 112 (February)
Coasts are changing at an impressive speed. Therewith come changes in and challenges to governance that require an empirically-based understanding in order to foster sustainability transitions. New challenges are often not adequately met, so a host of problems arise. The papers in this special issue speak to these problems and consider which governance approaches might be worth exploring. The authors look at a diverse set of governance practices and changes, using the lens of Evolutionary Governance Theory (EGT). This theoretical approach is chosen, because EGT offers a perspective on governance which gives central place to co-evolution. EGT integrates a broad range of theoretical notions, drawing on evolutionary and system theories, institutional economics and versions of post-structuralism. EGT is put to use to analyse what is called in the framing paper ‘the coastal condition’. It is argued that governing land-sea interactions and the coastal zones is particularly prone to problems of observation (between land and sea, between centre and coastal margin) and complex interdependencies (between social and ecological systems, between actors managing risk). Governing land-sea interactions requires multi-level governance and new forms of policy integration, which means, an explicitly coastal governance arena, semi-autonomous yet subjected to the checks and balances of a multi-level system. The various papers develop these insights by highlighting problems of coordination in coastal governance, issues of inclusion/exclusion, diverse knowledges and observations. They illustrate how the coastal condition engenders risk and uncertainty, and how it renders policy integration more important, while simultaneously making it harder to achieve.