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Blue Plan Reports on Participatory Governance for the Multifunctional Management of Mediterranean Woodland Areas.

Wednesday, 08 July 2015
On 30th June 2015 Blue Plan, a UNEP/MAP Regional Activity Centre, published a very interesting and stimulating report about participatory governance in Mediterranean woodland areas called “Participatory governance for the multifunctional management of Mediterranean woodland areas. Methodological guide: factsheets and tools”*. Blue Plan coordinated the development of a synthetic report on the existing initiatives on participative governance issues. The report was produced by the Forest Research Centre of Catalonia (CTFC) and COFOR International in the framework of the project called "Optimizing the production of goods and services by the Mediterranean forest ecosystems in a context of global change", funded by the French Global Environment Facility (FGEF) and jointly entrusted to Plan Bleu and FAO.

The report clarifies and suggests numerous ways of stakeholders’ involvement in the crucial management of Mediterranean forests which are multifunctional areas as they perform multiple ecological, economic, landscape and social functions. Participatory governance is an approach to consultation and decision making that involves the stakeholders and people affected by management of the areas in a coherent and accountable way. It offers tools to involve and empower all stakeholders, by establishing rights, but also obligations, and by promoting more efficient management of available public resources. By involving stakeholders and taking into account their various interests and visions, better integrated/cross-sector policies can be created and applied that are better adapted to social demands and which take into account traditional activities. By involving stakeholders in both defining sustainable development policies and alternatives and making decisions, but also in implementing and monitoring them, it is possible to reduce the social, economic and environmental vulnerability of an area and the people who live there and/or depend on it. Taking into account various visions and interests, jointly identifying issues, threats and opportunities, and building a shared vision of a better future greatly improves the ability of stakeholders and areas to anticipate and adapt to changes, thus improving their resilience and sustainability.

The report has been completed with the production of methodological factsheets which synthetically cover the various methods and tools to implement participatory governance approaches. The objectives of these methodological factsheets are:
• To present a range of relevant approaches, methods and tools used for the participatory management of territories
• To focus on analysing their strengths and weaknesses, contexts and application conditions, geographical scope and the key stakeholders involved with regards to specific Mediterranean forested areas.
• To make recommendations for facilitating the design and implementation of a methodology and tools for participatory governance and management, which are suited to the specific nature of the Mediterranean region.

The report consists of 9 methodological factsheets which are: 1. Framework for participatory initiatives; 2. Stakeholder mapping; 3. SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis; 4. The scenario method; 5. The “Imagine” method; 6. Description and objectives of an action plan and action sheet; 7. The Analytic Hierarchic Process (AHP); 8. Participatory toolbox; 8.1. Surveys and interviews; 8.2. Focus Group; 9. Reminder for the participatory management of Mediterranean territories.

In particular:

1. The methodological framework presented is structured into five main phases guiding the implementation of a participatory approach for territorial development and natural resource management following a cyclical learning process and continuous improvement: 1A. Technical diagnosis - quantify resources, analyse context, identify stakeholders, perform governance diagnosis 1B. Shared diagnosis - Record stakeholder visions and interests and specify environmental, social and economic issues 2. Decide on strategic guidelines and objectives for development and management 3. Specify actions and draw up action plans with schedules, budgets and monitoring/evaluation indicators 4. Implement the actions as planned (such as forestry, communication, training or networking actions) and monitor them via indicators 5.Evaluate the actions via performance and impact indicators (physical and participatory indicators).

2. Stakeholder mapping helps to identify the stakeholders affected by the local development process and the strategic decisions, and to analyse their interests, abilities, legitimacy, influence and potential role in the approaches. This tool also provides the foundations and strategies to encourage the participation of stakeholders who may have conflicting interests, with a view to more pertinent decision-making. Stakeholder mapping begins at the start of the diagnosis phase as it helps identify sources of information and resource people, and it is continued and supplemented throughout the process, given that new data is integrated and that new stakeholders may join the initiative.

3. SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) is a strategic analysis tool to facilitate decision-making. It combines study of the strengths and weaknesses of an organization, area or sector with that of the opportunities and threats of its context, to help formulate a development strategy. Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors that create or destroy value. Opportunities and threats are external factors that the area or organization cannot directly control. The aim of the analysis is to enable both internal and external factors to be taken into account in the strategy, by maximising the potential of the strengths and opportunities while minimising the effects of the weaknesses and threats. SWOT analysis is primarily aimed at planning, to identify the strategic goals to be developed. It can be used to check whether the strategy implemented is a satisfactory response to the situation described by the analysis and can be used in assessment.

4. The scenarios method is used to explore possible futures with a view to informing decisions on present actions. A scenario describes the logical path from a current situation to an imagined future. Building scenarios is particularly useful when analysis of past and present situations is inadequate to guide decision-makers on choices for the future, in particular where they are confronted with complex issues, where there is a high probability of major change, where the dominant trends risk being unfavorable and must be explored or where a long-term action is under consideration. Recourse to the scenarios method can provide planners with reference points to guide their considerations towards the various and contrasting future possibilities. The scenario building process can also help develop a shared vision among the participants. In particular, stakeholders involved in building the scenarios can better understand the issues and reasoning behind the strategies and policy decisions necessary to produce alternative futures.

5. The “imagine” method aims to bring together all local stakeholders and offers tools to describe, assess and explore the level of sustainability of a socio-ecological system (covering an area’s ecosystem and the system of stakeholders involved in its management) in the past, present and future. This method uses indicators and a participatory approach, relying on local stakeholders who are considered experts from and in the area in which they operate. Plan Bleu developed, tested and consolidated this method of analysis to inform stakeholders’ strategic decision-making. The aim of this approach is to help provide and familiarize stakeholders with integrated predictive-analysis tools so they can imagine possible future scenarios – based on past and current trends and emerging threats – and produce Action Plans to move towards to a desirable and sustainable future.

6. Strategic guidelines and the operational actions to be performed must be specified in collaboration with stakeholders in order to deal with local issues. The action plan consists of deciding and clearly and precisely presenting the following, in line with the strategic guidelines. The action plan is the plan that guides the day-to-day work. It operates well when all stakeholders, at national, regional and local levels, coordinate to take decisions on policy objectives, actions, implementation costs and deadlines. Local stakeholders can strongly contribute and decide on their role in the planning and implementation of the actions. All stakeholders can genuinely participate in the drawing up and performance of action plans via focus groups and working groups.

7. The Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) is a technique for organising, analysing and making complex, multi-criteria decisions, using a systematic, rational and transparent process. This technique is based on mathematics and psychology and was developed by Professor Thomas Saaty in the 1970s and has since been refined. It is used globally by governments, industries, etc. in the health, education and natural resources management, and in particular forest management sectors. It offers interesting possibilities for collective and participatory decision-making, the structuring of problems and development alternatives, group facilitation, consensus building, handling qualitative and quantitative data, conflict resolution, decision support and structuring of preferences. It is relatively easy to implement and various IT programmes are available to help carry it out. The process involves breaking down the decision-making problem into a hierarchy of more comprehensible sub-problems (so that each one can be analysed independently), representing and quantifying their elements, connecting their elements to the general objectives and evaluating alternative solutions.

* To access the full report, see:

Source: Plan Blue
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