Multi-level environmental governance: Lessons from Australian natural resource management

Michael Lockwood, Julie Davidson, Allan Curtis, Elaine Stratford, Rod Griffith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Citations (Scopus)


The region has become a significant scale of governance for the implementation of public policy, including natural resource management (NRM). A community-based regional NRM governance model has been adopted by the Australian government in partnership with Australian state and territory governments. There have been persuasive advocates of this approach both within community organisations and government. Proponents point to advantages such as the capacity to integrate across social, environmental and economic issues; improved investment efficiency; ability to establish appropriate power-sharing and partnership arrangements; better conversion of planning products into on-ground outcomes; and community learning and capacity building. However, concerns have also been raised in the academic literature regarding insufficient devolution of power, lack of downward accountability, exclusion of some stakeholders from decision making, and inadequate vertical and horizontal integration. We interviewed representatives from each of the governance levels (national, state, regional) to examine these concerns, and in doing so identify the strengths and challenges of the Australian experiment with devolved NRM governance. We synthesise the interview data with insights from the literature and make observations on the current state of Australian NRM governance. From this analysis, we identify lessons from the Australian experience to inform the development of multi-level environmental governance systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-186
Number of pages18
JournalAustralian Geographer
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2009

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