Governance in UNESCO Biosphere Reserves Project Activities

Examining the Governance Model of the Garden Route Biosphere Reserve in South Africa and how it facilitates youth involvement.

The Garden Route Biosphere (GBR) is the case study for this research activity. This research aims to examine the governance model of the Biosphere Reserve (BR) to identify the enabling and disenabling factors to its successful implementation in the social-ecological system in which it is embedded. Specific attention is given to youth engagement within the BR, as facilitated through the GBR’s current governance approach.

The ongoing expansion of the Man and Biosphere (MAB) programme in South Africa demonstrates the continued support for the programme in the country. However, despite over 20 years of MAB implementation in the country, little is known about BR governance and management in South Africa. In addressing this deficit there is the chance to gain a better understanding of the factors impacting BR management and governance success.  This research seeks to understand the ways in which the governance processes of the GRB and its relationships with external stakeholders impact its ability to successfully implement the MAB programme in the social-ecological system in which it is found. Additionally, this research will investigate how the governance of this BR facilitates youth involvement. Youth are an important group of actors historically excluded from BR governance and decision-making processes. Young stakeholders have a broad understanding of the complexities involved with managing SES and can provide fresh perspectives when tackling the challenges involved with MAB implementation in their home territories.

Data for this research will be collected using purposive and snowball sampling, as well as a stakeholder analysis, to identify the GRB board members and youth stakeholders. In-depth interviews will be used to gather data which will then be thematically analysed in order to identify the enabling and disenabling factors to successful MAB implementation, as well as those influencing youth involvement in the BR.

This research is in progress. It is being undertaken as Masters Research at the University of the Witwatersrand by Ms. Jesse Booysen under the supervision of  Drs Kaera Coetzer (Wits) and Bianca Currie (NMU)