Sub-theme 10. Local institution building and radical futures for the commons
From vision to execution: Why do participation processes go wrong and under which conditions do they promote environmental justice in practice?
Public participation is an increasingly prominent norm in natural resources management. It has been incorporated into multiple legislations, such as the UN human rights framework that now recognizes the right of indigenous peoples to give or withhold free, prior, and informed consent for resources use on their territories, or various national laws as, e.g., provisions for water user associations, councils, etc.
In theory, participation advances environmental justice across various dimensions. It changes who has a say in decisions on natural resources (procedural justice), provides an opportunity to allocate costs and benefits differently (distributional justice), and a forum to articulate diverging values and ontologies, to bring together multiple forms of knowledge and to negotiate rights claims (recognition justice). In practice, however, participation processes rarely fulfill that ideal. Participants often experience processes as tokenistic (providing information rather than devolving discretionary power) and exclusionary (of particular social groups, knowledges, or worldviews), so that they entrench power asymmetries rather than mitigate them. This difference between the ideal of participation and its practice is sometimes a function of the formal provisions, sometimes a function of their implementation.
This panel invites contributions that investigate why this difference between vision and execution and/or between the ideal and the practice of participation in natural resource management arises, going beyond general claims on the importance of power and the pursuit of private interests. Contributions can draw on a range of theories (e.g. bricolage, governmentality, institutional analysis, gender theory) and can have an empirical as well as a conceptual focus.
Panel 10.2. A — Participation and inequalities in multi-stakeholder platforms and grassroots movements
Intro, aim, and background of panel
Fostering pro-social action through participation in natural resource and environmental management: An integrative and interpretative narrative review using the IAD, SES and NAS frameworks.
1Osnabrück University, Germany, 2Leibniz University Hannover, Germany
Environmental challenges call for individual and collective pro-social action by the relevant stakeholders. Involving them in the policy process is thus necessary and potentially promising. But how and to what extent can participatory policy interventions (PIs) effectively deliver pro-social action? We review (lab and field) experimental, quasi-experimental and case study research that sheds light on the potential of PIs for pro-social action in environmental and natural resource management. We use the institutional analysis and development (IAD) framework, the social-ecological systems (SES) framework and the network of action situations (NAS) framework to integrate and interpret under a common framework the insights of these related yet hitherto largely unconnected pieces of evidence. Our review shows that PIs have the potential to foster pro-social action by addressing and influencing actors’ relevant (a) institutional context and (b) attributes (i.e. their individual and shared understandings, beliefs and preferences). PIs must address and link to the broader context through soundly designed and implemented processes to fulfil their potential. Effective seem to be PIs aimed at inducing deliberation on actors’ individual and collective actions and facilitating the development of concrete solutions beyond mere problem awareness and stakeholder consultation. Moreover, complementary follow-up, enforcement and conflict resolution mechanisms are necessary to nurture, reassure and sustain trust-building and collective action. The conceptual framework used for this literature review can help researchers and practitioners to advance transdisciplinary and applied research on participatory governance and pro-social behaviour in environmental and natural resource management.
Local Governance Conditions in support of Inclusive Decision-Making in the Commons: A review of empirical studies
Seattle University, USA
Common-pool resource scholars frequently cite participatory governance arrangements as critical for successful resource management. Crafting participatory forums, however, is not easy. Case studies point to examples where the poor, women, or other marginalized community members have been excluded from communal decisions and have borne more of the costs and received fewer benefits from community-based conservation programs. While we understand some of the barriers to inclusion, we have a limited understanding of the governance factors that facilitate more inclusive decision-making processes for governing the commons.
A place at the table is not enough: multi-stakeholder collaboration for the management of landscapes as commons from the perspective of Indigenous Peoples and local communities
1CIFOR-ICRAF, USA, 2CIFOR-ICRAF, Peru
Multi-stakeholder platforms (MSPs) are idealized as imagined spaces for collaboration among equals, based on the idea that ‘we’re all in this together’. This notion is an obstacle to meaningful change; for collaboration to support change, it must challenge the foundations of inequity and assure historically underrepresented voices are heard.
To examine this potential, we engaged with the perspectives of a seldomly studied constituency in MSFs – Indigenous Peoples and local communities (IPs and LCs). Our presentation draws on a comparative study of 11 MSFs that sought to support sustainable management of landscape as commons in Brazil, Ethiopia, Indonesia, and Peru. Our cases focused on specific subnational landscapes; had at least one government and one non-governmental actor; were processes, not one-off events; and had been running for at least one year. Interviews were conducted with forum participants and organizers to comparatively engage with their perspectives regarding the potential of MSPs to provide voice, empowerment, and an opportunity for change.
Despite overall optimism regarding MSPs, IP and LC representatives were more skeptical than other participants about the potential of the forums to empower, assure voice, prevent those with more power from dominating dialogue and avoid placing their ancestral rights to land at risk. IP and LC respondents were likelier to think collective action is a better option and understood their participation in MSPs as part of a wider political strategy. We will conclude by proposing concrete actions to support how to get from a place at the table to a voice at the table.
Resisting domination while trapped by dependency: grassroots movements, power and inequality in forest governance in the Congo basin
1University of Goettingen, Germany, 2Universidad San Francisco de Quito, Ecuador, 3University of Kinshasa, DRC, 4IRD, France
In forest-rich region such as Congo Basin, where postcolonial state-centred systems create or perpetuate inequalities in the access and management of forest resources. To deal with the related power asymmetries, many forest-dependent communities struggle to form a well organised grassroots movements to promote more environmental justice, recognition of their customary rights and equitable benefit sharing in the formulation or implementation of forest-related policies. Our main hypothesis is that: forest policies and the formulation of the related rules and norms in the Congo basin are social constructions in which state bureaucracies play a dominant role, while forest-dependent communities remain the marginalized actors. The paper uses a sociology of law approach to analyse the historical process and power relations that take place, often behind the scenes, in the formulation, adoption and implementation processes of policy reforms that promote participation of forest-dependent communities in forest governance. Scrutinizing Cameroon and DRC as case studies, the paper also pays attention to identify and explain policy inertia that have often led to the failure of policy reforms related to forest-dependent communities. Our findings reveal that in most of cases, grassroots movements in Congo basin are instigated and financed by external actors including donors who have brought their agenda to the table as a subtle conditionality of their support. Forest dependent communities have been caught in a paradox trap of struggling to resist states bureaucracies’ domination, while they are trapped by a strong dependency with external donors.
Including bodies vs. including embodied knowledges – Public participation in Mongolian water- and miningscapes
German Institute of Development and Sustainability, Germany
Since its reform in 2012, Mongolia’s Water Law includes provisions for public participation. The law now stipulates the formation of so-called river basin multi-stakeholder platforms (RB-MSPs), which play a role in drafting the river basin management plan and thus provide an opportunity for various water users to discuss priorities. Water use is a contentious issue, as mining activities constitute an important economic driver but also pose varied and massive risks to water resources, on which villagers as well as semi-nomadic herders rely for recreational activities including bathing and fishing, but in some cases also for drinking.
Summary and preview panel 10.2. B
Panel 10.2. B — Experiences with policies for inclusive natural resources governance and management
Intro, summary panel 10.2. A
Spatial tools as boundary objects for inclusive landscape negotiations and governance: Exploring the potential in two multistakeholder platforms in Zambia
1University of Amsterdma, Netherlands, 2CIFOR, United Kingdom, 3University of British Columbia, Canada
Solutions to land use claims and conflicts involving local communities require novel approaches, while at the same time helping plan the future. This paper aims to contribute to an emerging scholarship that explores how spatial tools as boundary objects can be used to contribute to inclusive landscape negotiations and governance. We used spatial mapping to observe and document stakeholders’ perceptions about drivers of land-use change and desired future scenarios that accommodate competing land use in two stakeholder platforms in Zambia. We found that remote sensed time sequence images helped participants identify land-use change dynamics and drivers. The ensuing community mapping of desired landscape scenarios in both platforms triggered a process of identifying common concerns and defining actionable priorities. However, only stakeholders in one platform ultimately reached a compromise on a draft land-use map that was widely regarded as an entry point for further negotiations with district land-use planners. This paper illustrates, first, that instead of focusing on the end product (participatory maps), understanding the processes leading to such maps helps uncover why spatial tools may fail to achieve the intended purpose of reconciling land uses. Second, spatial tools only work for landscape approaches if platforms are inclusive and foster a collaborative process through transparent engagements. We conclude that the disparity between the two MSPs illustrates that the potential of spatial tools to trigger negotiations between stakeholders with different interests must be understood in the context of place-based environmental histories and institutions rather than being used in a generalized way.
Reaching vulnerable households, youth, women and smallholder farmers in rural areas of Tunisia: a dream that cannot come true?
1CIRAD, France, 2UMR G-EAU, France, 3Univ. Montpellier, France, 4National Agronomic Institute of Tunisia, 5UMR TETIS, France, 6Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries, Tunisia, 7Accord, Tunisia, 8INRAE, France
This contribution focuses on a research and development program implemented in Tunisia entitled PACTE: Program for Adaptation to Climate Change in Vulnerable Rural Areas of Tunisia. The PACTE program is led by the Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture, Hydraulic Resources and Fisheries. The program develops and tests an approach for the participatory design of territorial development plans. The six areas chosen to test the approach are located in the governorates of Kef, Siliana, Bizerte, Kairouan and Sidi Bouzid. These areas are among the most vulnerable in the country, in terms of environment, fragility of economic activities, and poverty. Since 2018, more than 4000 citizens and farmers have participated regularly and directly in the development of territorial development plans. These plans are now completed, and various actions have begun to be implemented. However, due to power relations between actors during the participatory process, attempts to capture the process and its products by certain stakeholders, and the rigidity of administrative procedures for implementing the actions, a number of these actions are struggling to reach the most vulnerable households, youth, women and smallholder farmers, who were the priority target of the program. Our contribution analyzes this gap between the program’s ambition and its actual impacts, based on interdisciplinary work between management sciences, political sciences and development anthropology (e.g. Lavigne-Delville 2012, Giovalucchi & de Sardan 2009) and social geography (e.g. Rebaï, 2022).
Lessons from the ground: groundwater commons in-the-making
1iES Landau, Institute for Environmental Sciences, University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany, 2Centre de Recherches et d’Études sur les Sociétés Contemporaines (CRESC), Morocco, 3Hassan II University of Casablanca, Morocco, 4University of Montpellier, Cirad, UMR G-Eau, France
Groundwater is essential for agriculture in many arid regions. However in such regions, groundwater recharge is generally low, leading to groundwater degradation. State responses are seldom effective in addressing this issue, leading to fatalist narratives of the unsustainability of profitable agricultural growth and the collapse of aquifers. We argue that such narratives make it difficult to recognize more promising instances in which communities find solutions to groundwater degradation. We call for a fine-grained analysis of the social practices around the use of groundwater, which, we argue, represent a process of commoning. We do so while recognising that the collective action of communities is embedded in an intricate set of relations with other stakeholders and that positive environmental and transformative social change, which is often associated with commoning, cannot be taken for granted at the onset. Building on the case of the Draa Valley (Morocco), where watermelon production has expanded rapidly, we illustrate how the process of commoning evolves through multiple social practices: 1) introducing new farming practices that reveal the potential of the aquifer; 2) representing the aquifer as degraded and developing a narrative of a collective good to be protected from outsiders; 3) defining rules of groundwater access and use; and 4) engaging in conflictual relations. Our analysis shows that commoning, performed by young local farmers, is about extending the life span of the aquifer for agricultural production rather than preserving it. Yet, commoning practices also reveal the capacity of the community to change the course of the future.
What is missing with state-driven initiatives to promote collective action in agriculture? Insights from the policy on cooperatives in Uzbekistan
1Institute of Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Food Policy, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany, 2Centre for Interdisciplinary Regional Studies (ZIRS), Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany
Transition countries with a state-dominated governance like Uzbekistan face challenges in developing non-state forms of organization in the agri-environmental sphere. Cooperatives are a widespread legal form for collective management of natural resources in agriculture. The present study explores the latest state policy on the development of agricultural cooperatives in Uzbekistan. Drawing on the analytical instruments of the procedure for institutional compatibility assessment coupled with the concept of governmentality the study aims to highlight the policy incompatibility with existing institutional conditions. Based on empirical insights from in-depth interviews and internal policy documents, we explore the core incompatibility of an exclusively regulatory nature of an intervention with the desired voluntary form of cooperatives’ organization. The revealed obstacles in implementing the policy are the prevailing information asymmetry, farmers’ distrust towards the state, and the inadequate capacity of the authorities. A deeper look at the policy design and execution through the lenses of governmentality helps to shed light on the discrepancy between policy intentions and engagement of both the authorities and the farmers. Although the state’s top-down approach effectively enforced the formal establishment of cooperatives, most farmers were informed about the policy only symbolically, remained skeptical about its value, and considered the state responsible for its implementation. Apart from the need for changes in broader institutional environment, the findings highlight that changes in the attitude of policymakers are necessary to allow time for learning and internalization of self-organization principles by farmers to make the advantages of cooperatives possible.
Joint reflection on lessons learned