Private and Public Authority Interactions and the Functional Quality of Sustainability Governance: Lessons from Conservation and Development Initiatives in Tanzania

Stefano Ponte*, Christine Noe, Asubisye Mwamfupe

*Corresponding author for this work

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The changing shape of sustainability governance has been a key academic and policy concern in the past two decades, as part of a wider debate on the interactions between public and private authority in governing the economy, society, and the environment. In this article, we contribute to these debates by examining how these interactions operate locally and across jurisdictions in three conservation and development initiatives in Tanzania and what impact they have on the functional quality of sustainability governance. We find that clear division of responsibilities, coupled with material incentives for communities and equal and transparent distribution of benefits, are key positive contributors to functional quality. These factors underpin the complementary interactions (collaborative at the local level; institutional layering across jurisdictions) that are needed to successfully negotiate and implement the compromises needed to balance conservation and development goals. We also find that competitive dynamics are harmful to functional quality, especially those taking the form of local institutional duplication and of dominance by central government across jurisdictions. These tend to appear especially when sustainability initiatives involve multiple stakeholders with wide discrepancies in resources, interests, and power, which leads to compromises determined in a top-down manner.
Original languageEnglish
JournalRegulation and Governance
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)1270-1285
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Published online: 31 January 2020


  • Conservation
  • Governance sphere
  • Natural resources
  • Private and public authority
  • Sustainability initiatives
  • Tanzania

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