World Heritage and extractive Industries come together to address protected areas and land resource use conflict

05 March 2014 | Article

From February 19 – 21, government ministries, private investors and other key stakeholders from extractive industries and World Heritage from Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya joined a dialogue in Nairobi initiated by the IUCN Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office (ESARO), supported by BIOPAMA and the MAVA Foundation.  The meeting’s goal was to gain insight into the perspectives and concerns of different parties with respect to mineral, metal and hydrocarbon development and natural World Heritage Sites, in addition to identifying a strategy to avoid negative impacts on natural World Heritage Sites, with mutual gains for all parties.
 

The meeting served as a first step in building relationships between individuals in various sectors in each of the participating countries. Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda will build on the findings and recommendations of this first exchange for driving further dialogue and developing plans for joint action. As part of the Capacity Building Action Plan for the region, a similar dialogue with the agricultural sector will be held in the second part of this year.

Both extractive industries and World Heritage sites are drivers for social and economic prosperity, but how to weigh the income generated by the exploitation of natural resources against the social and environmental values of biodiversity and ecosystem services, and how to find mutually acceptable solutions for these potentially conflicting land uses? Building capacity in key spheres, including working with extractive industries, infrastructure development, agriculture, marine and freshwater fisheries, can enhance effective land use planning and optimize the role of protected areas within the socio-economic landscape. BIOPAMA addresses this challenge, as part of the Capacity Building Action plan for Eastern and Southern Africa.

Recognizing that many dialogues and negotiations falter because participants focus on their own positions and do not seek to fully understand each other’s underlying interests, the Nairobi meeting was built on a format that included both content discussions on extractive industries and World Heritage, as well as training on dialogue processes using the Mutual Gains Approach to negotiation. The approach focuses on delving into the interests of all the stakeholders and finding mutual solutions based on inclusion of all interests. In training participants on this approach, various practical exercises were used to illustrate the important concepts of the mutual gains approach, e.g. supporting long-term vs. short-term options, making individual vs. group choices and focusing on interests and not positions. This approach fostered a better understanding of the importance of protected areas, in particular of World Heritage Sites, and concerns about the potential impacts of extractive industry on World Heritage Sites.