Three centuries of marine governance in Indonesia: Path dependence impedes sustainability

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Creating more sustainable forms of marine governance is a matter of path creation, and as such is constrained by the historical evolution of institutions. Yet knowledge of the path dependence of contemporary marine governance institutions is rare. This paper presents an analysis of the evolution of coastal and marine governance in Indonesia and explains how it has hindered change towards more sustainable marine governance. Using historical institutionalism as the analytical lens, through analysis of archival materials, policies and regulations, and media articles, we describe the history of coastal and marine governance over the past 300 years. This analysis shows that the institutions that govern marine areas in Indonesia have been shaped by and appropriated to support extractive land-based economic activities. Strongly imbued by colonial ideologies, the sea has been seen as and acted on as a source of rent for the elite, and a resource for rapid economic development. This analysis helps explain why marine governance that is inclusive of local people's and environmental values is proving difficult in Indonesia, and more broadly in other postcolonial countries where formal marine governance institutions were established to facilitate resource capture and commodification.




Talib, N. L., Utomo, A., Barnett, J., & Adhuri, D. S. (2022). Three centuries of marine governance in Indonesia: Path dependence impedes sustainability. Marine Policy, 143.

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