Ten years on – and a new website look

The Learning for Sustainability (LfS) site will celebrate more than ten years of operation this year. In order to maintain the level of service that visitors require the site is being extensively revised and upgraded. I am currently moving the site to a wordpress platform, and the indexing and structure of site sections will also be rebuilt during this period. This will result in a site that is more streamlined, and works equally well for those of you using tablets and phones to access the site in the field. While this is being done the original site can be accessed through this LfS index page.

In total, this site now has been around for almost 18 years. It was initiated in 1998 as part of my PhD studies, and subsequently developed under the NRM-changelinks name. Over the 2005/2006 summer period the NRM-changelinks name (and URL) was discontinued, and was superceded by the current Learning for Sustainability name (and URL).

The success of the site relies in no small part because so many of you have pointed to papers, reports and other material for inclusion, and shared the availability of this resource among the wider global community of practice in this area. On average the site currently receives more than 800 visits each day*, with the highest number of visits in any one day being in excess of 1500.

As part of the recent update activities I re-visited the original aims of the site, particularly looking at the wide breadth of processes, tools and skillsets that the LfS site highlights. As evidenced by current literature, we can see that as the use of collaborations matures there is a rapidly increasing need for wider skillsets in engagement practice to match the increasing expectations that key stakeholders have. And this also means that those managing contemporary collaborations will increasingly require this type of multi-skill, multi-method support structure.

It’s exciting to see the current worldwide proliferation in the use of learning-based and collaborative approaches in so many natural resource management and sustainable development initiatives. Effective collaborations which improve information flows, and strengthen and harness many existing aspects of social relationships in environment and development, are likely to work to foster constructive change. However, as we use these processes more and more stakeholders gain experience, so we need to make an effort to improve current practice in a number of ways:

  • Collaboration is not new, and we need to do a far better job of linking research in this area with emerging practice on the ground.
  • Practitioners need to have access to evaluation approaches that are responsive to context and surprise, and that help us learn across multiple initiatives at different scales.
  • As organizations and communities come to see collaboration as an ongoing process – rather than a series of events, so practitioners will be required to mix and match a wider range of skills to support the development of outcomes that emphasize resilience and adaptation.

Collectively these challenges provide us a lot of opportunity to share ideas and experience about current initiatives.

* Using AW site stats (2014 – 2015)

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An independent systems scientist, action research practitioner and evaluator, with 30 years of experience in sustainable development and natural resource management.

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