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Regional Environmental Governance in the Lake Victoria Region: The Role of Civil Society

Journal article
Authors Andreas Godsäter
Published in African Studies
Volume 72
Issue 1
Pages 64-85
ISSN 0002-0184
Publication year 2013
Published at School of Global Studies, Regional Studies Section, Africa Studies
Pages 64-85
Language en
Keywords regional governance, environment, civil society, East Africa, east-african community
Subject categories Cultural Studies, Political Science


Since the beginning of the 21st century, advancing sustainable development has become a new concern in African regional governance. Perhaps the best example of this regional environmental governance is in the Lake Victoria Region (LVR) in East Africa where innovative regional institutions have been created under the East African Community to deal with environmental problems collectively. Civil society organisations (CSOs) are increasingly taking part in these regional processes. However, the role of civil society in regional governance in Africa has been neglected in most regionalism studies, which tend to be state-centric. There is a great need for empirical data on regional civil society as well as for new theoretical tools. This article is based on field research that investigates the role of civil society in regional environmental governance in the LVR. Civil society can constitute a dynamic force at the regional level, but the involvement of CSOs in regional institutions is complex and to varying degrees takes place on the latter's terms. CSOs can play two different roles in regional environmental governance; as problem-solvers and as critics. The article concludes that the LVR is an example of a new form of participatory regional governance in Africa.

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