Developing negotiation skills to support protected areas decision making in Eastern and Southern Africa

09 July 2014 | News story

One of the key focuses of the BIOPAMA programme (Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management) in the Eastern and Southern Africa region is the cross-sectoral engagement for integrated sustainable planning. In order to address the growing threat of land and resource use conflict around protected areas, BIOPAMA supports dialogue processes at various levels that aim to develop sustainable solutions to specific conflict situations, particularly with sectors and stakeholders active at the interface of protected areas, including extractive industries, agriculture, infrastructure development, and fisheries.

These dialogue processes are challenging and require strong negotiation skills in order to achieve sustainable outcomes. The Mutual Gains Approach (MGA) is an example of such a negotiation process being applied by BIOPAMA for facilitating constructive dialogues with other sectors and stakeholders in and around protected areas. This approach focuses on identifying the key interests of all the stakeholders to find mutual solutions. It also relies on good information and a mutual agreement on the underlying facts around a particular issue. This is crucial to finding sustainable solutions and the information that can be collated through the BIOPAMA Regional Observatories can support these dialogue processes with the most relevant information related to protected areas.

A central principle of the Mutual Gains Approach to negotiations is that the vast majority of negotiations in the real world involve parties who have more than one goal or concern in mind and more than one issue that can be addressed in the agreement they reach. This model allows parties to improve their chances of creating an agreement superior to existing alternatives and is based on four steps for better negotiation:  preparation, value creation, value distribution, and following through. 

The negotiation process is relevant at local, national, and regional levels, as most solutions involving various parties and potentially conflicting goals require negotiation. To support this effort at the regional level, BIOPAMA and the SADC (Southern African Development Community) Secretariat are hosting a workshop from 2-4 September 2014 in Johannesburg, South Africa, to develop guidelines on the development of extractive industries that consider protected areas and key biodiversity areas in the SADC region. This requires the input and engagement of a variety of stakeholders: government, private sector and civil society, representing different goals and intentions, including biodiversity conservation, exploitation of minerals and hydrocarbons, job creation and poverty alleviation.

The workshop will use the principles of the Mutual Gains Approach to guide discussions and support mutually acceptable solutions. In preparation for this workshop, BIOPAMA is assessing the current approaches by government and the private sector to the development and management of extractive industries in the region and identify best practices from the region and beyond. Individuals or organizations that wish to make an input into this assessment or provide an example of best practices can contact the BIOPAMA coordinator for Eastern and Southern Africa, Christine Mentzel.

Another BIOPAMA opportunity to apply robust negotiation processes is through support for the dialogue process for natural resource management in the Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia, organized in collaboration with the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) and the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA). BIOPAMA will hold a capacity building workshop (15-19 September 2014) for stakeholders around the Bale Mountains National Park on negotiation and constructive stakeholder engagement processes, to ultimately find effective ways to collaborate. After the initial training on process, a dialogue will be initiated around some of the main land use threats identified in this protected area, including the uncontrolled grazing of livestock that leads to overgrazing and habitat degradation.

The outcomes and experiences from these engagements and negotiations will be presented at the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014, as part of the programme for Stream 5: Reconciling Development Challenges. The presentation will highlight this model of stakeholder engagement to resolve development conflicts, with examples from: World Heritage - Extractive Industries engagement (February 2014, Nairobi); development of guidelines for the exploitation of minerals and hydrocarbons, particularly in high biodiversity areas and around protected areas (September 2014), and; resource use in and around Bale Mountains National Park (September 2014).


This image shows the courtship behavior of Indian Bull frogs (Holobatrachus tigerinus). During the monsoon, the breeding males become bright yellow in color, while females remain dull. The prominent blue vocal sacs of male produce strong nasal mating call.