Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue - a Key for Conservation in Indigenous Territories

CEESP NEWS - CEESP's theme on Governace, Equity and Rights (TGER), headed by Melanie Zurba and Purabi Bose, lead a multi-stakeholder dialogue at the XVII Biennial International Association for the Study of Commons (IASC) Conference 2019

IASC Lima Conference

How does multi-stakeholder dialogue matter in nature conservation? When engaging with a diverse range of stakeholders, one is already taking a step towards understanding the complexity of nature-human dynamic interactions. In the recently concluded 17th Biennial Conference by the International Association for the Study of Commons (IASC), the CEESP theme on Governance, Equity and Rights (TGER) led a multi-stakeholder dialogue.

This was CEESP’s first initiative to organise a session at the IASC Conference that had the theme ‘In Defence of the Commons: Challenges, Innovation and Action’, July 1-5, 2019 held at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, Lima. The TGER team, Melanie Zurba and Purabi Bose, worked together with the six panellists – each one brought specialised expertise in nature conservation in indigenous territories, mainly in Latin America.

The six panellists were: Nicanor Alvarado, Activist-Academician, Andean Amazonia, Peru, Silvana Baldovino, Environmental lawyer, Peruvian Society of Environmental Law (SPDA), Peru, Thomas Moore, Anthropologist/Practitioner at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Peru, Yolanda Lopez-Maldonando, Indigenous Rep/ Research Scholar Ludwig-Maximilians University, Germany, Diego Hopkins, Economist, Lawyer and PhD candidate, Imperial College, London, and Fikret Berkes, Distinguished Prof Emeritus, University of Manitoba, Canada.

The CEESP-TGER’s use of multi-stakeholder dialogue was strategic, as Dr. Bose, who chaired the dialogue, points out, “We wanted to create an opportunity for different stakeholders working with different approaches, tools, and field-based experiences to meet at a common platform. It is challenging to bring in diverse rich perspectives, which could be often contradictory, but these differences can in turn work as a collaborative solution. This multi-stakeholder dialogue was a step towards that broader goal.” Under the title, ‘Practice to Policy Impact of Forest and Nature Conservation, Governance and Equity on Indigenous Community’, this multi-stakeholder dialogue raised more questions and thoughts than providing any one-fit all solutions.

Prof. Berkes began the dialogue presentation by sharing the trajectory of Conservation and highlighted what the more favorable conditions, specifically commenting on recent changes of international conservation policies such as UNDRIP 2007. Dr. Moore stressed, “National protected areas have been created, for example in Tambopata, Madre de Dios, Peru. We’ve to recognize that nature conservation exists because of the indigenous populations.”  On ground water governance system in Yucatan, Mexico, Dr. López-Maldonado explains, “Cenotes, which is an indigenous word for ground water wells, are increasingly becoming degraded, because they do not have a good management and this is where the aspect of good governance comes to light. I’m academic and indigenous and it is my job to make the connection and to work with them.”

Dr. Alvarado and Dr. Hopkins both shared their perspective of working around conservation – one with indigenous communities using social movements and the other focused on the valuation of nature through economic payment. Making a legal perspective, Ms. Baldovino, Director of Biodiversity at SPDA, raised the lack of up-to-date legal tools at the national level, leading to constant threats from corporate sectors promoting illegal and extractive activities and pushing away the indigenous communities – for example, in the Manu National Park struggling to get recognition of their rights.  

It was a houseful event, and participants actively engaged in fruitful dialogue post-brief presentations by the panellists. When asked about one take home message that emerged out of this Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue, Pablo, one of the audience members, summarized, “Clearly, we need more such platforms in terms of not just theoretical academicians or practitioners talking to each other, but mixing them together in a panel along with participation of indigenous and local communities. Having this event in Spanish (with simultaneous English interpretation) was a big plus mainly for us to engage in the dialogue.”


IASC Lima Conference Photo: IASC
The IASC is the leading professional association dedicated to the commons. The association, founded in 1989, is devoted to bringing together multi-disciplinary researchers, practitioners, and policymakers for the purpose of improving governance and management, advancing understanding, and creating sustainable solutions for commons, common-pool resources, or any other form of shared resource.

The IASC aims to:

– encourage exchange of knowledge among diverse disciplines, areas, and resource types
– foster mutual exchange of scholarship and practical experience
– promote appropriate institutional design

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