In this blog post, Blake Ratner from WorldFish discusses Collaborating for Resilience, a partnership that addresses natural resource conflict and competition through multistakeholder dialogue and institutional innovations to strengthen environmental governance. The initiative is inviting new partners; please see below for more information.
International investments in agroindustry present a growing source of competition for local populations who rely on land, forests, water and fisheries for their livelihoods, particularly where local tenure security is put at risk. Climate change adaptation measures frequently raise difficult questions of how to distribute resource access rights and benefits. Policies to increase agricultural output as a source of food, feed, and fuel are pushing production into marginal lands and sensitive ecosystems. All of these trends point to a common challenge: what does it take to nurture institutional arrangements to equitably manage resource competition in ways that support long-term sustainability goals?
Conflict over environmental resources endangers rural people’s livelihoods and can increase the risk of broader social conflict. Yet action to sustain shared resources can also be a potent source of community building. Investing in capacities for conflict management can help launch innovations that build resilient rural livelihoods and strengthen institutions for equitable environmental governance. These are the key messages from Collaborating for Resilience, an international partnership between scientific researchers, civil society, community and government institutions, that examines how structured multi-stakeholder dialogue approaches can help communities gain a voice in resource management planning, access their legal rights, and catalyze institutional innovations.
The partnership has synthesized principles to guide such dialogue (see figure) and applied the process to assist local stakeholders in Cambodia, Uganda and Zambia in developing a shared understanding of risks and opportunities, weighing alternative actions, developing action plans, and evaluating and learning from the outcomes. The documented outcomes from these institutional innovations include enhanced community negotiations; new and successful engagement with private investors; influence on government priorities in addressing the needs of local communities, and new sources of support to scale out innovations by engaging UN agencies, national ministries and others.
Collaboration is vital but how do we make it work? Collaborating for Resilience highlights the nested roles of purpose, people and process.
(Source: Collaborating for Resilience: A Practitioner’s Guide)
“This work is important because it moves us from analysis of the problems to a strong engagement in working with local actors – farmers, fishers, government agencies, civil society groups, and investors – in finding solutions,” says Alexander Carius, Managing Director at adelphi, a Berlin-based think tank and public policy consultancy and a core partner in the initiative. “Using the resources from this partnership, we’re advocating for governments and development agencies to integrate collaborative dialogue about environmental resources into program and policy implementation.”
The structured dialogue process has multiple benefits that demonstrate why governments and development agencies should invest in building local capacity for conflict management and collaboration. The benefits include the ability to:
- address power differences among local actors and private investors, avoiding escalation of conflict and building mutually beneficial agreements
- address barriers related to women’s participation in resource management
- aid in the implementation of natural resource co-management policies
The Collaborating for Resilience site offers more resources illustrating the work in practice, including short videos, practitioner manuals, reports and policy briefs. They offer field-tested guidance on exploring the potential for collaboration in natural resource management, facilitating dialogue and action, evaluating outcomes, and sustaining collaboration over time.
Curious to learn more? Interested in joining efforts to advance this line of work? The first phase of the Collaborating for Resilience initiative was supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the CGIAR, including CAPRi’s own CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets. We’re now exploring a second phase and looking to identify additional partners and collaborators. If you’d like to discuss, please contact me at Blake Ratner at b.ratner(at)cgiar.org
More on this topic also in New Security Beat blog : Lessons from Uganda on Strengthening Women's Voices in Environmental Governance
Blake Ratner is Research Director at WorldFish, an international, nonprofit research organization dedicated to reducing poverty and increasing food and nutrition security. Headquartered in Malaysia, WorldFish is active in Asia, Africa, and the Pacific. An environmental sociologist and specialist in multistakeholder dialogue, Blake’s own research focuses on natural resource governance, conflict, and cooperation from local to regional scales.