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SCALETOOL IntroductionDriversBiodiversityPolicies and managementConnectivity and protected areas

Challenging power asymmetries in innovative governance arrangements

In Greece, along with the increase in number and types of protected ecosystems, the variety and number of involved actors has raised. Thus, especially since the '90s, there have been a number of new governance arrangements towards the above direction through the emergence of an expanded role for non-state actors, sharing of responsibilities and establishment of partnerships between the state and representatives of the private sector and the community, mainly in the context of EU funding schemes and in implementing EU directives (Apostolopoulou et al., 2012).

The institutional changes in Greece enabled a broader public participation in PAs management. Apart from the management agencies several multi-sectoral and multi-level cooperation networks have been created (e.g., National Committee of Governmental Planning and Sustainable Development Policy, National Board of Planning and Sustainable Development, Committee Nature 2000). Moreover, in the context of Community Support Frameworks (CSFs), Life-Nature projects and the operational program Environment, several NGOs, actors from the local administration, such as development agencies, municipalities, prefectures and regions, research institutes, universities, and management agencies participate in the implementation of conservation policy by conducting environmental studies (including Specific Environmental Studies necessary for the designation of the majority of PAs), monitoring schemes and management measures and plans.

Simultaneously, the recently implemented Kallikratis plan (Greek Law 3852/2010) led to a wide-ranging reorganization of all governance levels towards a new governance architecture of regional, local and decentralized administration. The latter gave a significant administrative and budgetary autonomy to regions by transferring powers from central government to the regional authorities including their overall development strategy. It is worth mentioning that, inter alia, the General Secretary of the Decentralized Authority is now responsible for the selection of certain types of protected areas following a less "strict" approach that the one described in the main Greek environmental law 1650/86. In particular, instead of a Specific Environmental Study (SES) now a so-called "special report" just describing the ecological importance and the protected values of the area can be enough for the designation of some types of PAs.

Despite the increased involvement of various stakeholders in Greek governance, this rescaling of governance in practice transforms existing power geometries. The contradictory character of many of these innovative governance arrangements is related to the fact that they have often been guided not by the need for meaningful cooperation and coordination between and within governance levels, but these have been rather pushed by political or economic interests (Apostolopoulou and Pantis, 2010; Apostolopoulou et al., 2012). A characteristic example is the establishment of management agencies in priority N2000 sites which in some cases has contributed to the extension of state's power, has been linked with explicit privatization efforts, or has facilitated private funding for protected areas. On the other hand, in other cases, management agencies contributed to the creation of new arenas for negotiation of conservation goals by directly involving through official procedures state and non-state actors in conservation politics and allowing them to negotiate the boundaries and size of PAs as well as the restrictions imposed. However, in most cases the outcomes of these negotiations, the terms of participation or the selection of stakeholders who could participate, were determined by powerful interests.

Schinias National Park, Greece. Photo by: Evangelia Apostolopoulou

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