The Role of Social Capital in Environmental Policy and Management
Public participation in environmental policy may introduce significant benefits for the management of natural resources. The efficacy of participation largely depends on the social structure of each community at which the environmental policy is aimed. The investigation of the social factors that determine collective action towards the protection of environmental resources is a challenging and promising task. An indicator towards this direction is the “social capital” of a community. The term “social capital” refers to the networks of civic engagement, social trust and the compliance to social norms in a community. Through its measurement, it has been used as an explanatory factor for the success or failure of public policies and has recently been connected to issues of environmental policy and management. This paper aims to present the connection between social capital and environmental policy by indicating the possible benefits that derive from the existence of social capital for the conservation of the environment. In addition, it will focus on the need for further empirical research in order to use social capital as an instrument for the valuation of environmental management programs and the improvement of environmental policies.
Keywords: Social capital, Natural Resources, Environmental Policy and Management, Public Participation
Dr. Nikoleta Jones
Department of the Environment, University of the Aegean