Governance innovations in the coastal zone: Towards social-ecological resilience

Carmen Elrick-Barr, Dana C. Thomsen, Timothy F. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Innovation is championed to enable transformation towards social-ecological resilience in coastal communities. Yet, innovation in coastal areas is not well understood with limited research concerning the nature of innovations and determinants of success. Analysis of interviews with 68 coastal and community key informants in Australia’s most rapidly growing coastal communities revealed that despite high levels of individual capacity (e.g., among coastal managers and community service providers) and good-practice policy, most innovations were limited in scale and insufficient for transformative change. All too familiar barriers included limited financial and human capacity, and a culture of ‘failure avoidance’ in government. Nevertheless, a small number of exemplars avoided these constraints by implementing systemic solutions that addressed socio-ecological challenges and built community resilience. Individual and community capacity for such innovation was built prior to crisis events and consisted of experience/knowledge, extensive and diverse social networks, and resource mobilisation skills. The findings provide further evidence of the critical importance of investing in communities before, during, and following crisis—in other words, continually.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103687
JournalEnvironmental Science & Policy
Early online date1 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2024


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