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Authority, responsibility and process in Australian biodiversity policy

Clement, S., Moore, S.A. and Lockwood, M. (2015) Authority, responsibility and process in Australian biodiversity policy. Environmental and Planning Law Journal, 32 (2). pp. 93-114.

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Despite a raft of policies targeting biodiversity, Australia has yet to stem biodiversity decline. This study analyses biodiversity conservation policies in two contrasting Australian landscapes, with a specific emphasis on how authority and responsibility are determined and allocated, using a novel linguistic tool (the Institutional Grammar Tool) and interviews with policymakers. Analysis revealed concerns around the narrowness of authority and the dominance of normative statements rather than rules. Unclear roles and responsibilities further diluted the clarity and allocation of authority. Political and economic factors drive policy implementation and constrain authority in both of the studied regions. A heavy focus on procedures rather than outcomes was also evident. Implications for policy design and the associated authority include broadening the definition of biodiversity, ensuring policy language more clearly allocates responsibilities, paying increased attention to the distributive as well as procedural elements of biodiversity policy, and developing buffering mechanisms to better cope with political and economic drivers.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Lawbook Co.
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