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[Source: Posted on Waterforum in Yahoo Groups - Message 2120]

***** Please forward to interested colleagues *****
NRM-changelinks: website update No. 3. July 2000

--- Site update focus: The roles of "capacity building" (especially social
capital), "participatory action research" and the "Internet" in supporting
constructive environmental change ---

The NRM-changelinks site (http://nrm.massey.ac.nz/changelinks/) provides an
on-line guide for natural resource managers and others working to help improve
the use of participatory approaches for environmental management. The emphasis
of this site is on improving community participation and collaborative
management within natural resource management (catchment management, water
quality, biodiversity enhancement, conservation, riparian management,
agriculture, etc). However, the approaches outlined here are also useful for
those working in a diverse range of development areas such as rural development,
health, housing, etc.

External links and on-site material offer approaches, information and theory in
related fields such as sustainable development, adaptive management,
collaborative learning, action research, facilitation, conflict resolution,
information management and Internet use. How these fields interlink in practice
is also illustrated.

This update will only be released every 2-3 months to highlight 'what's new' on
the site, and alert you to new Internet resources in this area. Please forward
to interested colleagues. Information on subscribing/unsubscribing can be found
at the bottom of this posting.

In this newsletter:

1. What's new on the NRM-changelinks website
2. Sites to visit
3. Thoughts for the day
4. To subscribe/unsubscribe
5. Disclaimer

1. What's new on the NRM-changelinks website
"Where participatory initiatives have worked it is because individual
communities and groups have shown the benefits of working collaboratively, of
developing a collective vision and learning and adapting their management
practices together. However, despite the increasing numbers of participatory
initiatives in different parts of the world, it is clear that most of these are
still only 'islands of success' (El Swaify et al. 1999). As Pretty (1998)
emphasises, true participatory projects are those which empower people by
building skills, interests and capacities that continue even after the project
ends. This implies the institutionalisation of such initiatives and the
corresponding capacity for activities to spread beyond the immediate project in
both space and time. Also we must be prepared to acknowledge that much of what
is billed as participation, is so in name only." (Allen 2000

In response, participatory practitioners and researchers are increasingly
looking at ways to go beyond the direct involvement of the immediate community,
or groups of stakeholder representatives and build a social and institutional
environment which is more ready to adapt and change. Research suggests that this
environment requires high 'social capital' - TRUST, networks and sharing.
Accordingly, recent additions to the NRM-changelinks site over the past couple
of months include links to key papers and resource sites in the following
related areas:

Building capacity for participation (especially social capital).

This page points to increasing evidence which shows how social capital --
networks and norms of reciprocity -- facilitates common property management by
providing the social relationships and trust upon which rules and monitoring can
be based.

Action research resources.

This page links to a number of resources showing how action research is ideally
suited to addressing issues of change and relationships within environmental
management. This is particularly true in respect of it's inherent evaluative
approach. In this way much can be learnt about fundamental and cross-cutting
questions concerning the best way to model programmes, or to examine more
closely the role that 'social capital' and 'capacity-building' can play in
helping achieve more environmentally sound management.

Using the Internet

This page provides links to highlight the growing potential of the Internet in
environmental management, particularly its potential in multi-stakeholder
situations to extend information sharing, learning and networking. The
advantages of technology are not in creating new 'virtual' communities, but in
strengthening already existing social networks.

On-line working papers added

Allen, W.J. (June 2000) 'Strengthening the links between research and
management: From technology transfer to collaborative learning'. NRM-changelinks
working paper No. 1
Allen, W.J. (June 2000) 'Future directions for research into collaborative
learning - helping people maximise the use of technical information within
multi-stakeholder environmental management contexts'. NRM-changelinks working
paper No. 2
Allen, W.J. (June 2000) 'The role of action research in environmental
management'. NRM-changelinks working paper No. 3

2. Recommended sites to visit

The five featured sites for this issue relate to capacity building for social
capital, participatory action research, and the role of the Internet to support
such efforts: (Note: this is not an award type newsletter ... these are just
good sites to share):

2.1. "Hart Environmental Data - Indicators that measure progress toward a
sustainable economy, society and environment."

This website aims to provide communities, companies and organizations with
basic, practical information about sustainability and the role that indicators
can play in measuring progress toward building sustainable communities. It also
includes a substantive on-line training manual for helping people understand how
indicators can be used at the grassroots level to help initiate and further
community sustainability projects.

2.2. "Social capital for development</A> "

This web site is the World Bank's link with external partners, researchers,
institutions, governments and others interested in understanding and applying
social capital for sustainable social and economic development. A number of
aspects of social capital are addressed, one of which deals with the links
between social capital and environmental management. The site content points to
increasing evidence which shows that social capital -- networks and norms of
reciprocity -- facilitates common property management by providing the social
relationships and trust upon which rules and monitoring can be based.

2.3. "CIVIC NETWORKS: Building Community on the Net "

</A> The potential for the internet to assist in the construction of social
capital is explored in this paper by Scott London. True communities can only be
formed through face to face contact and interaction. Virtual communities have
many characteristics of true communities but lack the face to face social
interaction component. Information technology can play a role in building social
capital if they are used to strengthen and add to existing social networks.

2.4. "Creating online communities"

An extremely comprehensive site full of practical advice on how to use the
Internet to change organisations, build partnerships and benefit communities.
The stated aim of this site from the UK-based Partnerships Online is to create
framework for thinking about real and virtual communities, existing institutions
and the impact of new media, provide links to existing resources, and act as a
catalyst for new sites and projects.

2.5. "What is Participatory Action Research?"

This paper by Yoland Wadsworth sets out to identify some of the main
characteristics of participatory action research. It identifies 'Participatory
action research? as a description of social research per se (albeit social
research which is more conscious of its underlying assumptions, and collectivist
nature, its action consequences and its driving values). In this way it tries to
be a genuinely democratic or non-coercive process whereby those to be helped,
determine the purposes and outcomes of their own inquiry. Paradoxically it is
quite close to a common-sense way of ?learning by doing?. But at the same time
it is very hard to achieve the ideal conditions for putting it fully into

3. Thoughts for the day

"Participation is not something that can be conjured up or created
artificially...Participation is a feeling on the part of the people, not just
the mechanical act of being called in to take part in discussions."
-- Lawrence,P.R. (1954 May-June). "How to Deal with Resistance to Change"
Harvard Business Review, 32(3), pp. 49-57.

"The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches,
but reveal to them their own." -- Benjamin Disraeli

*Continuous effort- not strength or intelligence- is the key to unlocking
our potential.* -- Winston Churchill

*Vision is not enough, it must be combined with venture. It is not enough to
stare up the steps, we must step up the stairs.* -- Vaclav Havel

4. To subscribe/unsubscribe
You can subscribe/unsubscribe from this newsletter directly using the form
provided on the main NRM-changelinks index
page(http://nrm.massey.ac.nz/changelinks/). If all else fails, e-mail me
directly at [email protected]

Feedback and comments on this site are welcomed ... as are suggestions for new
Web resources to add.

5. Disclaimer

Any views expressed in the NRM-changelinks website and newsletter are those of
the web manager, and are not necessarily those of any supporting organisations,
groups, or individuals.

Will Allen
Web Manager
NRM-changelinks: Improving Community Participation in
Environment & Development
E-mail: [email protected]

Manaaki Whenua - Landcare Research NZ Ltd.
PO Box 282, Alexandra, New Zealand
Tel: +64 3 4489932 Fax: +64 3 4488939
E-mail: [email protected]

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Will Allen
This site is researched, written & maintained by Dr Will Allen.

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