From quantitative monitoring to adaptive co-management
In our experience, formal management systems based on the monitoring and evaluation of quantitative variables tend to be narrow in scope and too rigid in interpreting change at community level. One of the most enriching experiences, both for Living Earth Foundation, our partners and for the communities we work with, has been the process of in-depth discussions and shared reflections on fundamental questions associated with development. What type of community do we want, in twenty years time? What do we mean, when we say we want to be a healthy community? What skills do we want to learn in the near future? What changes concern us most, at present? What are the most important aspects of the life we lead now that we want to protect and conserve? The discussions converge around how the industrial projects in question can be integrated into, and contribute to, a local and regional sustainable development strategy, rather than simply looking at mitigation/compensation measures.
Our partner in Venezuela, Fundación Tierra Viva, has achieved success in developing flexible co-management systems based on dialogue with key stakeholders (see Orinoco delta case study). Other examples where this approach is being developed include Sakhalin island, Russia (see Sakhalin case study) Asalouyeh, Iran, (see Asalouyeh case study), and the North Slope of Alaska.