Multi-stakeholder forums bring people together to address a problem, to work towards a common goal and/or to create a plan for collective action. There is considerable global interest in the potential for these participatory processes to improve landscape governance and management.
For example, in Peru, the management of natural protected areas is supported by multi-stakeholder forums. These management committees host the multiple actors interested in conserving each specific area. In Brazil, one of the country’s most important environmental forums is a multi-stakeholder arena organized by the state of Para to tackle deforestation.
As a result of CIFOR’s study of multi-stakeholder forums, researchers identified the need for such fora to be flexible and adaptable, and to address the power imbalances inherent in interactions among participants. In response, CIFOR worked with dozens of participants to co-design a set of tools aimed to ensure everyone’s voices are heard. Developed via a series of collaborative workshops with diverse actors from government, indigenous and local communities, women’s organizations and NGOs, the result is a series of guides that enable participants to monitor and reflect on the participatory processes that they are a part of.
The different tools are free and openly accessible, created with the aim to support more equitable dialogues and outcomes. They are intended for use by governments, international institutions, indigenous and local community organizations, environmental groups and other NGOs.
The tools are unique because:
- They were developed with a wide range of actors.
- They were designed to be used by forum participants and organizers themselves, not to be applied by external evaluators.
- They go beyond a simple assessment of indicators, inviting participants to discuss and reflect on their experiences.
The tools support people at the forefront of the necessary transition from top-down decision making to more equitably managed landscapes. They do not challenge power relations and inequalities on their own, but they support regular reflection for better communication, mutual understanding and adaptive learning. The process as guided by the tools can lead to more equitable participatory practices as part of a strategy for change.
The management committees [the official MSFs for supporting the management of Natural Protected areas in Peru] are the platform for validating several processes, but we need to see if this space is representative, legitimate, and includes the most vulnerable groups; hence we worked on the development of this tool (…) which brings together the diversity and singularity of each territory. Marco Arenas (SERNANP)
For indigenous women, our territory is our life. It is there where we find our food and medicines, our knowledge, practices and ancestral traditions, and our own cultural identity. Hence the effective and equitable participation of women in decision-making is essential (…). We have signed an interinstitutional agreement between ONAMIAP and CIFOR to develop a tool to monitor and promote our participation as indigenous women in territorial governance. Melania Canales (ONAMIAP)
The guideline provided by CIFOR is really useful for us. We tend to do business as usual without realizing whether our practices are effective or ineffective. Through the monitoring process, we are invited to look back and reflect on the forum. Also, monitoring can be done every 5 or 10 years to see if the province’s political and policy dynamics influence the forum. (…) The tool provided through the workshop would be really helpful. Dina Riska (DDPI)