on participatory dialogues with local actors
The identification of local partners, study sites and priorities
for collaborative research were based on extensive participatory
dialogues facilitated by the IIED project coordinator in each
country. Dialogues with local actors dependent on biodiversity
for their livelihoods were by far the most important aspect
of this participatory process. Village level meetings and interactions
in rural areas ensured that:
the IIED coordinator had the opportunity to present and
discuss the aims and activities of the DGIS supported project
with farmers, indigenous peoples and external support organisations.
the farmers and indigenous peoples had an opportunity to
assess, -on their own terms-, the desirability and relevance
of engaging in collaborative activities with IIED. For example,
after initial discussions with the IIED coordinator, farmers
in Andhra Pradesh (India) asked for time to reflect, decide
and give their informed consent for the project to go ahead
(or not) in their area. Village level discussions were then
held over a period of 2 to 3 months and the IIED coordinator
was informed of the outcomes of villagers decisions. Similar
dialogues and clarifications have taken place with Kechua
indigenous communities in Peru and with small farmers in
Indonesia to ensure that the principle of prior informed
consent laid out in various international agreements and
declarations is fully implemented.
participatory process was also important in building trust
and long term commitment to the project. Moreover, it allowed
for a more open exploration of the underlying values and ethics
that should ideally guide the collaborative activities. Village
level complaints about how outside professionals normally
behave and work were followed by lengthy discussions on how
issues on biodiversity, livelihoods and farming should be
approached. What should the respective roles, rights, responsibilities
and rewards of the different actors involved in IIED’s
collaborative research on Sustaining Local Food Systems, Agricultural
Biodiversity and Livelihoods? A series of principles and norms
were derived from the dialogues with local communities and
previous work done by the IIED coordinator(1).
radical shift is required from imposed conservation and development
which aims to retain external control on the management and
end uses of biological and other resources to an approach
which devolves more responsibility and decision making power
to local communities.
based conservation and development are likely to be sustainable
ecologically, economically and socially only if the overall
management scheme can be made sufficiently attractive to local
people for them to adopt it as a long term livelihood strategy.
In that context, dialogue, negotiation, bargaining and conflict
resolution are all integral parts of a long term participatory
process which continues well after the initial appraisal and
conservation and development organisations and professionals
need to shift from being project implementors to new roles
which facilitate local people's analysis, planning and action.
The whole process should lead to local institution building
or strengthening, so enhancing the capacity of people to take
action on their own. This implies the adoption of a learning
process approach (Table 1) and a new professionalism with
new concepts, values, participatory methodologies and behaviour.
1. Sustaining Food Systems, Agricultural Biodiversity and
Livelihoods: the contrast between blueprint and learning-process
diversity and its potential commercial values
diversity of both people and nature's values
planning and trade liberalisation
and local definitions of well being
of decision making
ideas originate in capital city
ideas originate in village
collection and plan
funds and technicians
people and their assets
universal, fixed package
local, varied basket of choices
(natural and economic science bias)
budgets, completing projects on time, market performance
improvement and performance
orders down, reports up
mutual learning and sharing experience
policing, inducing, motivating, dependency creating. People
seen as beneficiaries
supporting, empowering. People seen as actors
professionalism and corporate power
professionalism and democratic decision making
diversity in conservation, and uniformity in production
the empowerment of professionals and corporations
diversity as a principle of production and conservation
the empowerment of rural people and citizens
Pimbert, M.P. and Pretty, J.N. 1995. Parks, People and Professionals.
Putting "participation" into protected area management.
Discussion Paper No. 57. UNRISD-IIED-WWF, Geneva, 60pp.
Korten,D. 1994. People centred development: Towards a framework.
In: D.C. Korten and R. Klaus (eds) People centred development.
M.P. 1999. Sustaining the Multiple Functions of Agricultural
Biodiversity. Paper for the FAO/Netherlands conference
on the Multifunctional Character of Agriculture and Land,