The principle of self-organization is one element of adaptive co-management. Adaptive management and governance builds resilience by increasing the likelihood of flexible responses or behavior among stakeholders during times of crisis, reorganization or uncertainty.
Multi-level governance — Multi-level governance systems are institutions that have multiple centers or authorities. This involves local as well as higher levels of governance and strives to find a balance between decentralized and centralized authority. This type of governance builds social resilience by sharing and distributing power and by encouraging cross-level interactions and cooperation among stakeholders or institutions. In an MPA network management system, multilevel governance can encourage innovation and experimentation by allowing individuals and organizations to explore different ideas about problem solving and creates a variety of feedback loops at different scales.
Conflict resolution mechanisms — For a community to be resilient to interpersonal and inter-stakeholder conflicts, channels of communication should always be open. Conflicts need to be bounded—disputes should be conducted within the boundaries of a legitimate social process. Formal conflict resolution mechanisms that operate impartially and represent stakeholder interest equally need to be established.
Capacity — The capacity to organize is an important component in self-organization because it enables people to respond to disturbances by drawing upon resources outside of their households. It is important to build both human and financial capacity in a community to ensure the sustainability of the natural resources. Capacity-building activities may include:
- Environmental education
- MPA planning and management
- Monitoring and research
- Conflict resolution
- Evaluation and feedback
- Sustainable tourism
- Financial management
Monitoring and feedback loops — Monitoring ecosystem processes and dynamics is essential to increase the ability to respond to change and shape institutions and management practices. One constructive approach is to involve local resource users in monitoring, which may enhance incentives to learn about local ecosystems and increase the probability of successful management. Additionally, sharing of information and feedbacks are important in building capacity and trust among stakeholders, and also allows appropriate adjustments in human behavior and management actions to match current environmental or social changes.