Sub-theme 9. Conservation, environmental justice and the commons
Inclusive Conservation, WWF experiences from the field
vInclusive Conservation is WWF’s commitment to recognizing that conservation is also a social and political process where relations between humans and nature are shaped. WWF recognizes that a conservation approach that respects human rights, empowers minority groups, indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLCs), women, and other rights-holders creates conditions for equity and social justice, and leads to better and sustainable conservation delivery. WWF´s work around the globe has found diverse approaches that recognize IPLCs as rightsholders and key conservation partners. The panel discussion will include field experiences from Africa, Asia, and the Americas on Inclusive Conservation where WWF is strengthening IPLCs and under their guidance their institutions. Experiences will include the work of WWF-CARE Alliance and our joint efforts to address the root causes of poverty and environmental degradation. Examples of the experiences to be shared include our work with governance and life plans that strengthen local institutions, traditional customs, indigenous values, knowledge, and practices for human and biodiversity security of the bio-cultural community custodians; and how our science-based approach to conservation has found ways of integrating IPLCs into the decision-making processes for local and national climate adaptation options.
1. Science-based solutions can be participatory and inclusive: Lessons learned from Mesoamerican Reef ecoregion.
1WWF Mesoamerica, Guatemala, 2WWF Germany, Germany
The Mesoamerican Reef ecoregion is among the most vulnerable regions to the impacts of climate change. Its location as a narrow strip of land between two oceans, its topography, and most importantly the poverty and inequality faced by millions make it very vulnerable to more frequent and extreme weather events. Resource-dependent, often indigenous, communities bear the brunt of the impacts.
Working with Stanford and Columbia universities, WWF applied a participatory, science-based, decision-making process to assist national governments, protected area managers, and local communities in identifying adaptation options for marine protected areas and coastal-dependent communities. Marine-protected areas and coastal communities located in the Caribbean draining watersheds of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras. Lessons learned from the project offer insights into the challenges required to bridge the divide between science and top-down approaches and local concerns and priorities. Furthermore, the lockdowns associated with the Covid-19 pandemic offer additional insights into how to carry out participatory processes while safeguarding everyone’s health, but especially that of local communities.
We will share the challenges faced by a science-based analysis (e.g., insufficient data, local capacities, etc.) and how they were solved; the innovative solutions that WWF identified to reach local communities during the pandemic lockdown; and reflections on what local communities consider that differentiate our approach from previous experiences. These insights highlight the role that participatory processes in decision-making and overcoming information asymmetries have in supporting sound governance of socio-ecological systems.
2. Collectivizing Village Land Use Planning for Women’s and Youth Participation in and Benefits from Tanzanian Watershed Management
1WWF US, USA, 2WWF Tanzania, Tanzania
In 2018, the CARE-WWF Alliance initiated a project following Ostrom’s principles of participation in rule-making and nested governance in the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor (SAGCOT) region of Tanzania. The project sought to improve the income and food security of small-scale producers, especially women, and restore water flows in a key tributary of the Great Ruaha River, in part through integrated land and water resources management (ILWM).
At the time, just 14% of villages had Village Land Use Plans (VLUPs), the legal framework in Tanzania for both common pool resource zoning and individual land titles. The Alliance worked to address this through a new VLUP approach that would deliver common resource zoning agreements and improved connectivity in critical watersheds through the inclusion of women and small-scale water users, use of high-resolution satellite imageries and efficient mapping technology, and the promotion of ILWM across multiple villages simultaneously. The innovation is 71% more efficient than the traditional village-by-village approach.
We will examine ways in which collectivizing village-level land use planning has contributed to improved environmental justice outcomes, including the importance of complementing these participatory zonation processes with capacity strengthening, land titling and creating enabling conditions for collective action processes around watershed restoration and management. Further insights and recommendations for replication and upscaling will also be discussed.
3. Evaluating the Application of Ostrom’s Design Principles in Community-Managed Conservation Areas in Mozambique
1WWF US, USA, 2WWF Tanzania, USA, 3WWF Madagascar, Mozambique
In 2008, the CARE-WWF Alliance launched a project in Mozambique, informed by Ostrom’s design principles, to advance three objectives: Healthy Livelihoods, Healthy Ecosystems; Empowered Citizens; and Supportive Policies. The project included community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) of fisheries, mangroves, and forests, among other interventions – all with a focus on women’s participation and benefits.
A 2018 program evaluation found community-led management was correlated with a 25% increase in dietary diversity when CBNRM financing was adequate. Food security also increased, including for single women. However, communities experienced challenges with the lack of commensurate benefits for those supporting CBNRM and a lack of financial resources to realize critical components of governance aligned with Ostrom’s principles.
Findings indicate that CBNRM systems must have sustained financial support to ensure that key principles, like community-led monitoring and enforcement, can continue. Moreover, well-managed CBNRM systems can contribute meaningfully to women’s food and income security. Additional findings, implications and recommendations to support improved bridging of theory and practice and to realize the promise of participatory, nested governance of the commons will be discussed.
4. Women’s collective actions add better governance for the Commons
1WWF India, India, 2WWF Indonesia, Indonesia, 3WWF International, Netherlands
Women represent 43% of the agricultural labor force (including hunting, fishing and forestry activities) in the Global South and make up 47% of the global fisheries workforce. In addition, women have collectively mobilized and organized to spearhead various local initiatives for food security, food sovereignty, sustainable non-timber forest products, and marine resource management, resulting in overall better governance of common resources. Women are key rights-holders with strong environmental, economic and social agency and are users and custodians of biodiversity and natural resources. However, women have often been invisible and/or neglected in formal policy and decision-making roles related to natural resource governance, ignoring the scale and scope of women’s potential contributions.
Often, the collective actions of women have been acknowledged and labeled as “best practices”: but have not influenced policies and decisions related to the effective and equitable governance of the commons, including securing land tenure and access for women users.
Collective-choice arrangements is one of the design principles identified by Ostrom (1999:7) to help guarantee effective governance of the commons and compliance through generations. Collective actions can also increase mutual understanding, mechanisms of problem-solving capacity building, etc.
The paper will look at women-led initiatives from two Asian countries (India and Indonesia) that show how local collective actions by women for empowerment, food security, and natural resource management, while not always formally recognized and/or supported, can inspire and teach us how to enhance the governance of biodiversity of the commons and establish the foundations of future and just sustainability.