Best practice governance

The capacity of governance and institutional environments to support adaptation depends on the structure and effectiveness of policy and decision-making.

Good governance has become increasingly highlighted as a key factor in the planning, implementation and ultimate success of adaptation interventions and has received attention at the global scale with respect to conservation. A wide range of approaches are available to conceptualize and evaluate governance like social network analysis, governance and institutional effectiveness surveys and formal governance capacity assessments. Best practice governance is participatory, consensus oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive.

There is an extensive body of resources online for this topic in terms of background to the concept and the benefits of aiming for best practice governance. There are also useful sites that cover selecting indicators for measuring governance.  However, relevant information specific to managing coral reefs in the Caribbean is very limited, as is information from coral reef areas elsewhere.


  • UNEP has a Marine Protected Area Governance webpage: from where users can download the Technical Report “Governing Marine Protected Areas: Getting the Balance Right”: The report highlights that there is currently much guidance available on how to manage marine protected areas (MPAs), but there is less guidance available that considers MPAs from a governance perspective. This perspective poses a key question – how do we combine top-down, bottom-up and market approaches for reaching and implementing decisions in order to achieve effective and equitable MPAs? The report is based upon research using 20 MPA case studies from different regions around the world and different settings and subjecting them to detailed analysis using a governance analysis framework. The report addresses three types of MPA governance; government-led, decentralized governance (government and/or private sector) and community-led (NGO). The authors discuss how different approaches can be combined to make governance most effective. Both the website and the technical report will be of use to Caribbean reef managers.
  • Following a Regional Symposium held in Jamaica, the Commonwealth Secretariat (2004) has published a report entitled “Local Democracy and Good Governance in the Caribbean”: The bulk of the report is focused on outcomes of the symposium, but case study papers are also inclused. One key message was that that the promotion of local democracy and good governance are high on official agendas throughout the region.
  • The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) website discusses “What is good governance?”: This page defines that "governance" means: the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented). This resource is ideally suited for Caribbean reef managers as it is easy to follow and has useful diagrams showing, for example, how NGOs can effectively interact with government agencies.
  • The Sustainable Governance Indicators (SGI) 2011,, is a cross-national survey of governance that identifies reform needs, forward-looking practices and offers full access to its data set. The Status Index examines states’ reform needs in terms of the quality of democracy and performance in policy fields. The Management Index focuses on governance capacities in terms of steering capability and accountability. The website only includes Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OEDC) countries (typically high income countries) and regional datasets include America, Northwest Europe and Asia and Oceania. No Caribbean nations are included.
  • The World Bank has a “Governance and Anti-corruption” webpage: This lists numerous downloadable research papers on topics such as governance indicators and measuring governance. Some may be of interest to Caribbean reef managers.

Key publications

A conceptual framework for analysing adaptive capacity and multi-level learning processes in resource governance regimes (2009) Pahl-Wostl C. Global Environmental Change: Human and Policy Dimensions 19:354–365.

Evaluating the quality of public governance: Indicators, models and methodologies (2003) Bovaird T and Löffler E. International Review of Administrative Sciences, Vol. 69, no. 3: 313-328.

Marine Protected Areas and the Governance of Marine Ecosystems and Fisheries (2011)   McCay BJ and Jones PJS. Conservation Biology, Volume 25, No. 6, 1130–1133.