Environmental governance argues that governments are not the only agents responsible for managing environmental problems and that the solution is to share the management of environmental issues with civil society. This understanding has given rise to different mechanisms that would facilitate the involvement of private and social sectors in affairs of the public environmental agenda. To govern nowadays means to foster interdependency among the different actors of a given society, be they public, private, political or civil.
This process involves strengthening capacities at regional levels so that the regions can determine their own development options according to their biological, social, political and economic diversity. Much more is involved than the delegation of power or the transferring of roles. The consolidation of management by local authorities is required to enable them to make use of the powers they need for leading sustainable regional development, in line with the national sustainable development policies.
This issue becomes more complex when it concerns the management of geographical spaces where no clear policies exist. Such is the case in coastal areas, regions of great fragility and productivity. These areas are experiencing an increase in population, and competing interests between conservation and development. Strong pressures from tourism, fisheries, and oil activities vie with the need to preserve these sites of critical biological and ecological importance. The environmental services that they provide go beyond the needs of the local population; they must serve national and global interests.
Descentralización y manejo ambiental adopts an interdisciplinary approach whereby visions, conceptual frameworks and methodologies for social and natural sciences coexist, not as a sum of disciplines but as a way of understanding these complex systems. This book provides important lessons that should be taken into account when planning, designing, managing and assessing local public policies in coastal areas. The reach of this volume, however, is not limited to the Yucatan Peninsula; it includes lessons that are useful for analyzing the policies governing the coastal areas of the country, notwithstanding the distinctiveness of each region, and also for policies of decentralization in general.
Julia Fraga is a Research Fellow in the Department of Human Ecology, Centro de Investigación y Estudios Avanzados of the Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Unidad Mérida.
Guillermo J. Villalobos is the Director of the Centro de Ecología, Pesquerías y Oceanografía del Golfo de México of the Universidad Autónoma de Campeche.
Sabrina Doyon is a professor in the Department of Anthropology, Laval University, Quebec City, Canada.
Ana García has a PhD degree in Geography from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.