IDS working papers;15

Environmental Entitlements: An Outline Framework for Analysis, and a Mongolian Case Study

Published on 1 January 1995

The uses and management o f renewable natural resources (RNRs), and their consequences
fo r sustainability, are mediated in intended and unintended ways by institutional
arrangements. This paper highlights some pitfalls in the existing literature on povertyenvironment
linkages in developing countries, and offers an alternative analytical approach
based on the notion o f ‘environmental entitlements’. This more socially articulated approach
examines the determinants o f effective legitimate command over RNRs, including the rules
and institutions that control access, according to the distinctive positions o f particular
groups o f people. The approach is illustrated with reference to the case o f pastoral
ecosystems under economic transition in Mongolia, and specifically to the community-based
management o f common grazing land. Three key themes are drawn out, which are of
relevance fo r the management o f RNRs in other developing economies undergoing structural
reform: (a) the problem o f ‘institutional scarcity’ in the face o f new transaction costs; (b)
the distinction between the roles o f governance and government in RNR management; and
(c) the importance of locally evolved, community-based institutions in managing
environments at disequilibrium.
Key words : — entitlements analysis — institutions — environment and poverty — marginal
environments — political ecology — non-equilibrium ecology — governance — transitional economies
— collective action — transaction costs

Publication details

published by
Mearns, Robin


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