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Self-Organization in Integrated Conservation and Development Initiatives

Author(s): Cristiana Simão Seixas | Brian Davy

Journal: International Journal of the Commons
ISSN 1875-0281

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 99;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Keywords: Community self-organization | Community-based Conservation | Integrated conservation and development projects (ICDPs).

This paper uses a cooking metaphor to explore key elements (i.e., ingredients for a great meal) that contribute to self-organization processes in the context of successful community-based conservation (CBC) or integrated conservation and development projects (ICDP). We pose two major questions: (1) What are the key factors that drive peoples' and/or organizations' willingness to take responsibilities and to act? (2) What contributes to community self-organization? In other words, how conservation-development projects originate, evolve, survive or disappear? In order to address these questions we examine trigger events and catalytic elements in several cases among the Equator Prize finalists and short-listed nominees, from both the 2002 and 2004 awards. The Prize recognizes efforts in integrating biodiversity conservation and poverty reduction. We use secondary data in our analysis, including data from several technical reports and scientific papers written about the Equator Prize finalists and short-listed nominees. We observed common ingredients in most projects including: (1) involvement and commitment of key players (including communities), (2) funding, (3) strong leadership, (4) capacity building, (5) partnership with supportive organizations and government, and (6) economic incentives (including alternative livelihood options). We also observed that CBC and ICDP initiatives opportunistically evolve in a multi-level world, in which local communities establish linkages with people and organizations at different political levels, across different geographical scales and for different purposes. We conclude that there is no right 'recipe' to promote community self-organization but often a mix of some of these six ingredients need to come together for 'success' and that one or two ingredients are not sufficient to ensure success. Also the existence of these six ingredients does not guarantee a great meal - the 'chef's' creativity also is critical. That is, the success of a project results from its ability to use the available resources and ingredients creatively or perhaps wisely.
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