Theme on Governance, Equity and Rights (TGER) Update

20 November 2013 | Article

Poor natural resource governance has been an enduring challenge for decades. To address this sticky problem, IUCN is developing the Natural Resources Governance Framework (NRGF) to achieve IUCN’s vision of "a just world that values and conserves nature." The Natural Resources Governance Framework (NRGF), which is part of the IUCN Programme 2013-2016, is being developed with the leadership of the Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP) and the close collaboration of the World Commission on Environmental Law (WCEL), the IUCN Secretariat (Nature-based Solutions Group, Social Policy and Environmental Law Centre - ELC), and other partners that have yet to be defined. CEESP TGER was designated as leader for NRGF, and the NRGF Working Group (WG) was established in January 2013. 

The NRGF WG Co-Chairs are Janis Alcorn (TGER Chair) and Jennifer Mohamed-Katerere (TECS Chair).
The overarching goal of NRGF is to set a standard and guidance for decision-makers at all levels to make better and more just decisions on the use of natural resources and the distribution of nature’s benefits, following good governance principles, such that improved governance will enhance the contributions of ecosystems and biodiversity to equity and sustainability; and with the purpose of providing a robust, credible approach to assessing the strengths and weaknesses of natural resource governance at all levels, and corresponding tools to support decision-making and accountabilities in the planning and implementation of policies, programmes and projects that affect natural resources.

The NRGF will include governance diagnostic and decision support tools to help communities and stakeholders to assess the status of governance in specific situations and identify approaches and processes to improve, address and track specific governance outcomes for natural resources management. Regional collaborators for development and application of NRGF may include IUCN regional offices, commissions, members, national/ regional committees, communities, peoples’ organizations (POs) and other civil society organizations (CSOs), Indigenous peoples/ groups, national/ sub-national government actors, researchers, social movements, private sector and others. WCEL and ELC will specifically provide technical legal expertise to facilitate the development of a strong legal component of the NRGF. The NRGF will form a foundation within which the other IUCN knowledge products ( Red List of Threatened Species, Red List of Ecosystems, Key Biodiversity Areas, Protected Planet including the World Database on Protected Areas – WDPA, Green List of well-managed Protected Areas, and the Human Dependency on Nature Framework) will be applied. Improving governance quality requires assessing its current state and identifying practical steps forward across levels and sectors, taking account of a complex and changing decision context.

CEESP hosted the bilingual (Spanish-English) NRGF Inception Workshop 21-24 July in Airlie, Virginia, USA, in collaboration with WCEL and the Secretariat (ELC and Nature-Based Solutions office). Twenty-seven experts participated from Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia and Africa participated (see photo), including 15 CEESP members. Dr. James Murombedzi of the Council for Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) gave the plenary presentation focusing on how good governance depends on the roles balanced between the state, civil society, and the market. Dr. George Green, IUCN Councillor for North America, oriented the participants to the One Programme Approach to be taken with the NRGF development. Dr. Mike Jones of the Stockholm Resilience Center led an evening seminar on resilience in the context of Climate Change. Joji Carino, Executive Director of the Forest Peoples Program, detailed lessons for building NRGF based on her experiences with the World Dams Commission Framework which lays out a process for rights holders and risk holders to assess and reach decisions about a proposed development activity. Mayra Tenjo of the Latin American Institute for an Alternative Society and Law (ILSA) led a spirited discussion on the importance of intercultural communication and mutual respect for achieving governance improvements. Other presenters included IUCN gender expert Lorena Aguilar, Dr. Neera Singh of the University of Toronto, Adalberto Padilla of IUCN Central America, Juanita Cabrera-Lopez from SPICEH, and legal experts from the Organization of American States, American University Law School, Environmental Law Institute, and Center for International Environmental Law.

One key outcome of the NRGF Inception Workshop was the establishment of an internal NRGF governance framework, including an NRGF Leadership Group (LG) which will include three Commission representatives - two from CEESP and one from WCEL, and two members from the Secretariat - one from ELC and one from NBS. the Airlie Inception Workshop, additional WCEL and IUCN Secretariat staff members were invited to join the NRGF WG. The LG will meet regularly to ensure good communication acros the Commissions and the Secretariat. To ensure contextualization and responsiveness, the LG and WG will work with regional nodes and collaborative processes, using a regionally/ locally-driven approach with global process links as relevant.

A follow-up NRGF workshop is being hosted by IUCN's Environmental Law Centre in Bonn from August 11 to 14, to focus on legal aspects of the NRGF. NRGF WG Co-Chair Jennifer Katerere represents CEESP at this second NRGF design meeting. The NRGF Task Force on Values and Principles foundation for NRGF, established in Airlie, will circulate a draft document for further input in Bonn, and then the document will be circulated more widely for comment.

The NRGF Inception Workshop Notebook, which includes twenty-five short background briefs graciously contributed by CEESP members, the NRGF Inception Workshop Report produced by Jessica Campese, and other key documents will be posted on the new NRGF page in the CEESP website in September.