In our first blog, Ruth Meinzen-Dick contemplates on CAPRi's past, present and future. Ruth Meinzen-Dick is the Coordinator of CAPRi Program and IFPRI Senior Research Fellow.
It’s hard to imagine that CAPRi is nearly 20 years old. The CGIAR Systemwide Program on Collective Action and Property Rights (CAPRi) was formally launched in 1996; by 1997 all of the CGIAR Centers had joined the Program. Our original focus was on helping CGIAR centers to identify how the institutions of collective action and property rights are relevant for international agricultural research, but we quickly went beyond that: within 5 years, there were more than 400 institutions, including national agricultural research institutes, universities, and civil society collaborating in 110 research projects these issues. As the importance of these issues became more widely recognized, we’ve now lost track of how many projects, people, and institutions are involved. CAPRi has evolved from a CGIAR program to a community of practice for those who are trying to span between sound research and impact on the ground.
CAPRi’s underlying premise is that collective action and property rights are important tools for empowering the rural poor. The overarching goal is to contribute to policies and practices that reduce rural poverty by analyzing and disseminating knowledge on the ways that collective action and property rights institutions influence the efficiency, equity, and sustainability of natural resource use.
Over the years we’ve explored the linkages between collective action and/or property rights and technology adoption, devolution of natural resource management, watershed management, rangeland management, genetic resources, ecosystem services, climate smart agriculture, smallholder market access, and poverty reduction . We’ve addressed gender dimensions of both property rights and collective action. Contributions include methodologies, conceptual frameworks, training materials, empirical findings, and impact on the ground.
Today, CAPRi is part of the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets. A current focus of this work is on “securing the commons”-- systematic comparison and learning across resource sectors about what works (and what does not work) in policy reform, implementation, and community action to strengthen the security of common property for poor resource-dependent people, and particularly for women within these groups. (Stay tuned for the findings).
For the future, we are developing plans for a new phase of research on inclusive governance of natural resources, including enhancing tenure security of both private and common property, and managing shared landscapes, which will draw on polycentric approaches to governance, looking at the interactions among state, collective action, and market institutions.
Communication has always been a big part of CAPRi. Our website provides access to our workshop output, working papers, and other publications. CAPRi News, which is available on the web or through email, provides updates about upcoming conferences, calls for papers, funding opportunities, employment, and open access publications that we think would be of interest to our CAPRi community. We’ve recently redone all of these to be more interactive, including activating our CAPRi Twitter account!
One of the important additions is the launch of this CAPRi Blog, as a discussion and networking platform on issues of collective action and property rights. It is meant to stimulate conversations and provide a venue for scholars and practitioners to discuss issues, present new findings, and advance the agenda on issues related to collective action and property rights. To start things off, we have invited several researchers to talk about important new studies. Keeping with our tradition of promoting open access, we will only cover articles or working papers that are available in open access. We hope to expand the blog to include reflections by other development professionals about questions, challenges, and promising approaches. We welcome your comments and thoughts on the blog pieces, and suggestions for future blogs.
For me personally, CAPRi has been an incredible learning opportunity. My favorite part about being part of this network is getting to know all the great people who work on this topic around the world. I hope that this continues. The goal of the blog (and our overall communications strategy) is to capture this spirit of a community of practice and to build on that.