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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Sep 25;104(39):15176-8. Epub 2007 Sep 19.

Going beyond panaceas.

Author information

  • 1Center for the Study of Institutions, Population, and Environmental Change, Indiana University, 408 North Indiana Avenue, Bloomington, IN 47408, USA. ostrom@indiana.edu

Abstract

In the context of governance of human-environment interactions, a panacea refers to a blueprint for a single type of governance system (e.g., government ownership, privatization, community property) that is applied to all environmental problems. The aim of this special feature is to provide theoretical analysis and empirical evidence to caution against the tendency, when confronted with pervasive uncertainty, to believe that scholars can generate simple models of linked social-ecological systems and deduce general solutions to the overuse of resources. Practitioners and scholars who fall into panacea traps falsely assume that all problems of resource governance can be represented by a small set of simple models, because they falsely perceive that the preferences and perceptions of most resource users are the same. Readers of this special feature will become acquainted with many cases in which panaceas fail. The articles provide an excellent overview of why they fail. Furthermore, the articles in this special feature address how scholars and public officials can increase the prospects for future sustainable resource use by facilitating a diagnostic approach in selecting appropriate starting points for governance and monitoring, as well as by learning from the outcomes of new policies and adapting in light of effective feedback.

PMID:
17881583
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2000490
Free PMC Article
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