Chapter 1

Toward Transformative Change in the Coastal Commons
By Derek Armitage, Anthony Charles, and Fikret Berkes

The bad news is that coastal areas of the world are facing major challenges from the effects of climate change (e.g., sea level rise, ocean acidification), urbanization and industrialization, aquaculture intensification, and the expansion of capture fisheries. In many cases, these challenges have led to abrupt change, placing domestic economies, food security, and the wellbeing of millions of coastal people at risk (Kooiman et al.; Ommer et al., 2011; Jentoft and Eide, 2011).

The good news, however, is that coastal communities in many parts of the world are strongly responding to the threats to their coastal commons – the jointly shared resources and ecosystems that provide environmental goods and services on which we depend, from fish stocks to sea grass beds (Charles et al., 2010). Indeed, the imperative of sustaining our coastal commons is now recognized as a global priority (Berkes, 2015).

This introductory chapter outlines the core themes and conceptual framework that are used to explore these matters in the volume: coastal communities, governance, social-ecological systems and resilience, and transformation (see Figure 1.1). Several propositions are posed in this introductory chapter, that are then examined in the final Synthesis chapter of the book, based on the empirical evidence of the case studies presented.

Figure 1.1: Framework of guiding concepts