Facilitator – Lionel Gibson Note taker – Randy Thaman
(An important common theme is partnerships between communities and other multiple stakeholders, including government, NGOs and private industry)
Started by a local family initiative in 1995 and led by the local chief, which focused on the protection of the coconut crab. It included the establishment of a small environment centre, made of local materials, where people could meet to discuss conservation issues, share knowledge with local students etc.
The ingredients for success were:
It was a local initiative by the high chief’s family,
The chief had, after travelling to other areas, seen the need for conservation,
It was led and run by a local family/landowning unit although it was set up for the benefit of the entire community,
Other families, after seeing the success of it, began to protect their coconut crabs,
Other communities came to Loru for a workshop of all communities that had established or were interested in establishing community based conservation areas (CBCA) and have subsequently established terrestrial and marine conservation areas to protect endangered species,
Marriage between scientific and traditional knowledge and sound conservation plots to conduct inventories,
Establishing sample plots as a focus for school science studies,
Starting small, but slowly added components and has influenced other areas to establish conservation areas suited to their own needs,
Members of the Loru Protected Area have also run workshops at the Big Bay CA, which has received very significant funding under the SPBCP,
It has also been supported by the Vanuatu Protected Area Initiative, a one-man-gang NGO that supports community-initiated conservation projects.
Mainstreaming nature conservation in Palau
The entire government, including the current President and the Congress, have made a commitment to the integration of environment into national development planning, and have re-organised and upgraded what was formerly a single ministry of fisheries into two higher-level bureaus - one responsible for fisheries and one on agriculture, forestry and mineral resources. These ministries are responsible for coordinating, streamlining and making more effective nature conservation and for integrating it into all development sectors, listing priorities in term of the management and sustainable use of natural resources, giving awards which are linked to success in these endeavours and supporting the establishment and maintenance of a system of protected areas. They have a protected area network (PAN), that has already been passed by the Senate to strengthen the links between local communities, government (provincial and national) and other outside agencies. It was stressed that the PAN legislation was developed through multistakeholder consultations.
As a community development NGO, the main focus of FSP is on governance, though a new programme “Voices through Choices, and on community-level governance, with a focus on local level traditional and modern governance as it is related to gardening and agriculture, use of wild land resources and marine resources. The major concern is to see how good community-level governance can serve as a vehicle for mainstreaming sustainable use of biodiversity, sustainable livelihoods, with a view to influencing good governance at higher levels from the bottom up
Mainstreaming biodiversity conservation as an integral component of economic development
The narrow view of economic development at the policy-making level doesn’t see conservation and sustainable use of resources as a priority. Problem of convincing government and policy makers to implement environmental laws and sustainable development and that conservation and development are interdependent and that it is currently very hard to get key politicians and policy makers to see nature conservation and sustainable livelihoods as a central foundation for economic development.
Engaging local communities
The problem is to actively involve local community/stakeholder support. There are good initiatives, laws, funding, but the sustainability and real success of such initiatives depends on the involvement of local community leaders and community members. There is a need for education and awareness raising, because having legislation, establishing parks etc. without the educational support and public awareness wont be successful.
Marrying environment with mainstream economic development
Marrying of environment with mainstream development and learning lessons from good community development in initiatives that can be applied to mainstream development at the national and other levels (Nicki Wrighton – NZODA)
Unequal partnerships and inequitable benefit from our island biodiversity
The problem of unequal partnerships with respect to the use of our biodiversity and intellectual resources. Stress was put on the unequal flow of and access to our resources by outside interests. Some of this is supported, either directly or indirectly, by outside agencies such as major lending institutions. The concern is that most Pacific islanders are now receiving inappropriate benefits from the rich biodiversity and natural and cultural resources (traditional knowledge) inheritance that we have in the islands.
Bridge building between the formal environment sector and community-level practitioners
The main concern is that many practitioners do not understand the terminology, ways of presentation, concepts, etc. that are used by the “conservation elite”. There is a need for bridges, in terms of partnerships, language and ways of presentation that allow local communities to take part.
Great concern over the increasing global consumerism, both globally and in the Pacific islands, that is the main driving force for the unsustainable use of biodiversity and natural and cultural resources. Particular concern was expressed over increasing disparity in incomes, with some consuming much more than others and being disproportionately responsible for the unsustainable use of biodiversity. Particular concern was expressed over smaller, illegal operations, led by wealthy individuals over whom resource managers have little control. Also over the impact of unsustainable fisheries and forest exploitation.
Overemphasis on monetary returns/compensation for conservation initiatives
There was concern that local communities did not seem to understand the benefit of conservation and the sustainable use of resources for their own benefit. This is because they have lost their understanding of and links with their environment. It was stressed that outside-led high-profile environmental programmes with high investment levels are part of the problem and actually may serve to undermine long-term sustainability of both these developments and other community-led initiatives. There was a side concern about the American emphasis on environmental priorities, rather than sharing the concerns of the wider PacificiIsland community, which have similar concerns and stronger links with and dependence on their biodiversity.
THE BIG ISSUE/THE BIG INITIATIVE
The biggest issue is bridge building at and between all levels (local, national, regional and international).
The group initiative is the encouragement of wider and more effective networks between community, NGO, private sector and government stakeholders. At the national, regional level the use of media resources is suggested. The key action would be the development in the next four years of a strategy for bridge building within and across the four identified levels. This includes mechanisms for action, targets and indicators for each level. This would foster cross-sectoral dialogue, wider flow of knowledge and information for the promotion of nature conservation. A task force charged with developing a toolkit for bridge building.