Multi-stakeholder coalitions, subjective games, and equitable equilibria in the Great Bear Rainforest agreement.

Sara Lorenzini (University of MilaN)
Lorenzo Sacconi (University of Milan)


Forest governance is often at the root of multiple-level conflicts among actors with various forms of power that involve a diverse array of costs and risks and negative impacts in terms of both efficiency and justice. However, if properly managed, conflicts can be a positive force for institutional change and innovation whereby several cross-scale interests and objectives can be coordinated and new social and power relationships be forged.

This study uses game theory modelling to investigate the processes leading to the historical agreement over the Great Bear Rainforest after decades of “War in the woods” contestation among Provincial Government, First Nations, environmental NGOs, and timber companies and partial compliance with it. We move from the standard game theory approach by applying the subjective games model to the ex-ante phase – the transformation of conflict into dialogue for an agreement through changes that led agents to reframe their subjective models from a social dilemma to a stag hunt. Then, we apply the psychological games model to study the ex-post stage, that is implementation of a more environmentally and socially just agreement. The overall aim is to study (i) the formation of conditions that led to the multi-stakeholders agreement and (ii) the conditions under which compliance is feasible. The approach is consistent with a view of environmental policy as resulting from interactions between organised various decision-makers, interest groups, and coalitions that shift bargaining power.

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