3. The negotiation phase ... cntd
3.6 Negotiating co-management plans and agreements for each component of the strategy For each component of the strategy, the institutional actors need to identify what needs to be done to progress towards the desired future. The objectives identified up to this point are generally broad (e.g. "to manage the forest on top of the hills in a sustainable manner") and need to be transformed into work plans that answer specific questions such as "What exactly shall be done? Who shall do it? By when? Where? How? With what financial means and human resources? Towards what specific aims? What indicators will be used to measure progress?" This is the moment when everything becomes concrete, a multiplicity of strategic options and choices becomes apparent to everyone, different points of view abound, and conflicts surface in all their power and complexity.
At this time, it is expedient to form a working group for each component of the strategy, making sure that the actors most directly affected are represented in the relevant group. It is also a good idea for each group to have its own facilitator/moderator, perhaps one of the parties themselves, who could take on the neutral role learned by watching the professional facilitator at work (the latter could remain available for all eventualities).
The groups have to come to terms with the great many avenues and options open to them to achieve a given objective and, among them, select the one best suited to the conditions and needs of the given context. Since different avenues and options will bring different costs and benefits to the institutional actors, each actor may have strong interests and concerns attached to one course of action versus another. How can they all reach a consensus or at least a broad accord among themselves? The tools already used for the situation analysis (e.g. brainstorming, conceptual frameworks, SWOT) can help again, but other methods can also be useful. Among those are the ones listed below:
Methods and tools to agree on a course of action
One expedient is to provide space and time for everyone concerned to clearly explain their views and positions: what they want and why. They should not be interrupted except for points of clarification. Another expedient is to recall the common vision of the desired future (coming back to the present from the future). If all institutional actors have agreed upon, and perhaps even ritualised, a common vision of the desired future, it is difficult for anyone of them to abandon the negotiation table. The mediator can in fact reduce the disagreements to a matter of different paths taken to reach the same goal. Such paths can be compared, as described above, on the basis of various criteria.
In such cases it is useful to establish a productive partnership among the community (which may contribute natural resources such as land, water or access to the fishing area), certain individuals (who may contribute their labour, including surveillance labour) and other partners who may bring in the missing factors of production (such as seeds, water, boats, engines and nets, a tourism business, etc.). Once the productive partnership is active, the benefits can be divided among the production partners, one of which is then the community in its entirety. The community share of such benefits (or an initial "factor of production" provided from the outside, such as pumps for irrigation water, boats for fishing, tractors for ploughing or vehicles for transport) can be utilised to set up a Community Investment Fund (see the following Table below).
The rules governing a Community Investment Fund are devised by the members of the specific community, who generally set up a specific management committee. The fund is usually not loaned nor replenished by payments. It is, instead, invested in productive activities, which generate a suitable wealth for the community and income for those directly involved in its operations. This tends to make a Community Investment Fund grow rather than shrink under the effect of inflation and missed repayments. At the end of each production cycle, the growing Fund can be partially or totally re-invested for community-based productive initiatives, with or without partnerships with other groups or individuals.
Community Investment Funds for sustainable development have important and natural applications in the field of co-management, both as an approach that promotes and strengthens collaboration in society and as a co-management institution in its own right, with internalised incentives for using natural resources in a sustainable way.
Comparing types of community-funding mechanisms
Comparing types of community-funding mechanisms
Despite its best efforts, a working group of stakeholders may not arrive at a consensus on any given option for a strategic component. In this case, one possibility is to present all the alternatives to the broader group of all institutional actors and ask for everyone's advice. The broader group may again examine and compare alternative options on the basis of a number of specific criteria, but also look at the courses of action required for the other components of the strategy. By examining all the components of the strategy at once, it may be possible to reveal, for instance, that the "losers" in one of the dimensions are the "winners" in another one. Or the discussion may advance with the help of proposals for cross-component compensations and incentives.
The aim of the negotiation is a consensus on what needs to happen– such as specific objectives, actors, means and activities– to foster each component of the strategy. As mentioned, this is likely to include specific co-management plans for the relevant unit(s) of natural resources, but also complementary agreements dealing with other building blocks leading to the common vision of the desired future. The co-management plans will specify a share of functions, benefits and responsibilities and will be signed by all institutional actors involved (see the first box on the next page). Formal agreements on the other building blocks, also signed by the actors concerned, may include project implementation contracts, a letter of intent, a municipal by-law, etc. (see the second box in the next page). The more actors and the more finances involved, the more advisable it is for the plans and agreements to be made binding (such as formal or legal contracts). The signatories should be those individuals who are directly assigned responsibility in the plans and agreement (and not the authorities who represent them!).
All NRM plans and the associated agreements should specify actors, activities and means, but also a follow-up protocol, including the anticipated results and impacts to be monitored, the indicators and procedures to be followed and the individuals to be held accountable. It should also be noted how long the actors concerned will wait before meeting again to assess whether the chosen course of action has been effective and/or needs to be adjusted (for example through evaluation reviews). Finally, it is good to specify a set of indicators and follow-up procedures for the co-management process itself (see Section 4.3).
Copies of the co-management plans and agreements– written in terms that are simple, easily understandable and in the local language(s), or also in the local language(s)– need to be disseminated to the institutional actors and to the public at large. If a system of zoning has been agreed upon, the maps illustrating it will also need to be reproduced and disseminated.
It is important to keep the institutional actors informed about what has happened in the negotiation meetings, and especially to communicate why certain options have been retained and others excluded. The social communication system set up during the preparatory phase will again be very useful for this purpose.
One of the crucial ingredients of a social institution is time. Only a day-by-day experience through time can give people the sense of normality and the confidence associated with spontaneous, acquired behaviour and its associated social values. Another essential ingredient is a relatively stable organisational set-up, developed on the basis of the agreed pattern of entitlements.
The institutional actors could decide to set up several CM organisations for the same NRM unit(s), for instance an advisory body and a management body, including an executive secretariat. Other important characteristics of CM organisations are:
History and duration
Does the organisation pre-date the co-management plans and agreements or has it been set-up on an ad hoc basis? The former is sometimes preferable, as organisations and rules are a form of valuable social capital that require time and resources to develop. Yet, the perpetuation of a society's organisations may also mean the perpetuation of its internal systems of power and social inequities. Also, is the organisation permanent or is its life-span limited to a given period or activity?
The members may be representatives of all the institutional actors who developed the co-management plans and agreements, representatives of only a few of them, or mere professionals who do not represent any of the actors concerned (which may be the case for executive bodies). For a decision-making body, composition is a crucial issue. It is important to know who is being represented and what the balance of power is among the different institutional actors (e.g. relative number of members with entitlement to decide).
Is the organisation formal (legally recognised) or informal? Is it voluntary and self-organised or mandated by the State? Is it an open-membership organisation or a closed body, whose members can only be elected or appointed? Can anyone become a member or are there specific requirements? How is membership terminated? Is there a Chair? If so, how is the Chair elected? Is there a Secretariat? What are the terms of reference for the Chair and/or the Secretariat? How often and how are the meetings organised and held? Are the decisions taken by consensus? How are conflicts managed? Is there recourse to mediation or arbitration? Can the public, or stakeholders in general, attend the meetings? Are there reporting rules and/or arrangements for the dissemination of the proceedings? Etc.
How is the organisation sustained? Does it have any economic assets of its own? Are there membership fees? Are there income-generating activities? If some members regularly spend time on delegated tasks, are they compensated? If so, does compensation take the form of wages or a share in the proceeds?
As mentioned, a social institution is something more than a body and a set of rules. It is akin to an internalised state of normality in doing things, including expectations and routine reflexes (in particular the sense of shared responsibility in managing natural resources), social norms (the habit of discussing decisions with various stakeholders, and accepting the value of different points of view) and the use of specific terms and concepts in everyday life (such as co-management, but also entitlements, equity, linking of benefits and responsibilities, etc.). In other words, agreeing on an NRM plan and setting up a multi-stakeholder board are crucial but not sufficient steps towards institutionalising a co-management regime. This will be achieved only when— besides and beyond the rules— behaviours and ideas become spontaneously pluralist and respectful of a variety of entitlements and concerns in society.
3.8 Legitimising and publicising the co-management plans, agreements and organisations
The end of the negotiation process is marked by a meeting in which the results of the participatory process are made known to the relevant community or public. The meeting is usually held in the presence of authorities with more extensive powers than those who participated in the negotiations. The institutional actors review the common vision of the desired future, the components of a strategy designed to move from the present situation to the common vision, the co-management plans for the natural resources, the agreements set up for each component of the strategy and the organisations and rules developed to accompany implementation. For each agreement involving an NRM plan or any other major initiative or project, someone also describes the follow-up protocol (results anticipated, progress indicators, responsible individuals and/or organisations, etc.).
This meeting is an excellent opportunity to acknowledge the work of the negotiators and institutional actors and, in general, to celebrate the new hope generated for the entire stakeholder community. At this meeting, the institutional actors can also publicly vow to respect and "collectively guarantee" the co-management plans and agreements, which are presented for all to see, for example by exhibiting copies.
It is important to note that the co-management plans, agreements and organisations are reconfirmed and celebrated here, but not ritualised and rendered sacrosanct, as it should be the case for the common vision of the desired future agreed upon by all institutional actors. On the contrary, plans, agreements and organisations are to be monitored, evaluated and modified in line with their performance, results and eventual impacts.
The negotiation phase generally has some or all of the following outputs:
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