Day 9 - February 16, 2004
The morning was spent presenting the messages prepared by the working groups and developing a plan for the presentation of the messages at the Awards dinner on Thursday.
Community-led Sustainable Development Presentations
Beginning Ecotourism day with a presentation by Hasim Hamid who is here representing MESCOT in Sabah, the message covered the many ways a community can engage with interested tourists. With activities including fishing, net casting, museum tours, planting and harvesting, and household activities the local income is increasingly rising. A community fund has been established for home improvements for community members who host tourist or tourist activities, for reviving the culture, and for forest protection.
The discussion that followed included such topics as how the community developed the plan in the beginning, how they work collectively with the Department of Forestry, how they revive the brush after it was burned by a fire, and how this level of ecotourism effects the local culture. It was expressed by Hasim that it is of utmost priority that tourist follow local codes of conduct while they stay in the area.
The group welcomed Mustapha Maman here representing Ecole Instrument de Paix in Niger. He was delayed in his arrival and had an inspiring story to tell of his meeting with the President of Niger and the national interest in the project because of the recognition by the Equator Initiative.
The second presentation was that of the Bunaken National Park Management Advisory Board (BNPMAB) and Bunaken Concerned Citizen's Forum (FMPTNB) represented by Andries Kakomore and Lucky Sangoendang. The community based co-management system involves park officials as well as community representatives from the surrounding area. The area was divided into zones of conservation in 1997 by the governing officials, but there was no clarity as to who and what actions would be taken. Since 2000 the local communities have been active in clarifying and enhancing the system and ensuring that it is the community that makes decisions instead of the local government.
A discussion was led that focused on sustainable community led ecotourism. Among the many points that were addressed, one primary theme was that tourism can't be the only source of income, but rather a part. Rukmini Toheke pointed out that people need an inventory in order to know exactly what their assets are and what the biggest sustainable draw of the area is. Community-led tourism is a strong method of unifying communities and creating local income, but it must be socially conscious and empowering to those involved. It was also pointed out that some government negotiations are window dressing and that sometimes compromises must be reached in order to gain success over time. Ezekiel Talaga additionally pointed out that the communities must be allowed to decide where and when tourist visit. Many communities do not work in agreement with the capitalist model that divides communities into competitive entities. Allison suggested community to community sharing in order to dissuade such problems.
Dialogue: Indigenous People's and the Global Environment Fund (GEF)
Equator Initiative finalists and members of the Indigenous Peoples' Forum welcomed the opportunity today to engage in a dialogue with Leonard Good, former president of the Canadian International Development Agency and current CEO and Chairman of GEF. Len began the discussion by introducing the ways in which the GEF involves Indigenous people in 48 current projects of the GEF as well as much additional support by the Small Grants Program (SGP). Between the medium and full sized projects many focus on local involvement.
Much of the initial discussion focused on the pivotal role of the Small Grants Program and the benefits of the program so far. Additional questions included:
How can we better address the lack of continuity during the change of project leaders that many times disrupts collaborative efforts that have been previously fostered?
Rukmini Toheke of the Ngata Toro Community wondered how the GEF mechanism reaches local populations (especially women).
Ana Lucy Bengochea representing the Garifuna Emergency Committee stated that government representatives really have no idea what is happening in indigenous communities, shouldn't ideas come from the community?
Donato Bumacas of the KAMICYDI project in the Philippines addressed issues of literacy and the sustainability of conservation projects in terms of budget. He posed the possibility of the GEF introducing a sustainable funding mechanism such as a trust fund.
Len passed the opportunity to address such concerns to Mr. Martinez of the GEF. He responded by suggesting that sustainability is not necessarily the ability to sustain the change of leadership within the project support agency, but that actual passing to the local communities for complete control. He also addressed Donato's concerns by assuring him that many funding mechanisms have been in experimentation such as entrance fees and trust funds. Lastly, the point was made by Mr. Martinez that indigenous communities are best served through capacity building efforts and training.
One participant expressed the need for greater simplification and smaller funds to assist communities. Small grants, such as available from the SGP better facilitate and aid in the exploration of sustainable training programs as well as facilitate teamwork and reinforce communities. GEF itself has improved greatly in terms of working with local communities, but many groups don't understand or know about international efforts such as the CBD and are therefore marginalized from the action. There are many medium sized projects that are pending until greater involvement of appropriate organizations.
Additional questions were raised such as: What consulting mechanisms are present? It is now difficult to balance access to genetic resources with basic needs. How can greater amounts of information and training be given to communities?
A representative of the Democratic Republic of the Congo addressed a World Bank project that exploits the Congolese forest. Local and International NGO's have submitted an official protest as the project has not taken into account the well being of local communities. What is the GEF's opinion on building with one hand and tearing down with the other?
Marcelino Apuran here representing CABI in Bolivia told his story of his experience with the GEF in his community and how he has gained support over the past few years. He wants his community to be more involved in large-scale projects, but needs more knowledge about what role he and his community can play. He stated that his community makes mistakes without the support of the GEF just as the GEF makes mistakes without the local voice.
Naftali Porentjo of the Ngata Toro Community in Indonesia expressed that they have help from NGO's and the International Community, but it is the international community that is lacking the help of those that life closest to biodiversity - local communities.
Charles McNeill of the UNDP brought attention to Policy booklets that were available for the public so that implementing agencies can be held to the progressive policies that they establish.
A World Bank biodiversity specialist who was present in the crowd addressed the concerns raised earlier by the representative of the DRC. She stated that Bank projects today try to assess the impact on local populations. She was not aware of the project and expressed surprise at its inception.
A representative of the Forest Peoples Program of the UK stated that while it is true that the UNDP has introduced progressive policy, the World Bank has been slower to act and still does not address many fundamental rights.
Presenting a more informed view of the Bank project in the DRC, a representative from the Rainforest Foundation in Norway explained that a new Bank Policy in the Congo was implemented in 2002. They are still working on the implementation code for that framework. NGO's were involved from the start and given access to implementation norms, but as many rights were not being adequately addressed the NGO's took action before the project was finalized.
Gladman Chibememe of Zimbabwe introduced a final comment that addressed the ways in which grassroots efforts can better link to the GEF. How can collaboration be ensured in the future? There needs to be more respect, better evaluation, continuous dialogues and integration.
Len concluded the discussion by expressing his amazement at the range of issues raised from small to large. Project details were brought to the table, such as funding mechanisms, as well as larger issues such as indigenous rights. He stated that there should be to be greater focus on what the GEF can do and what they cannot. He will look into greater consultation with indigenous people. He presented SGP as a very important mechanism as seen in the opening discussion. It is an important instrument with adequate flexibility to meet diverse needs. Many issues are not particular to Indigenous people, and the "devil's circle" of bureaucracy is not easy to deal with. However, confrontation doesn't work to reach constructive ends. We need to work together to improve the problems of the world.
Community-led Sustainable Development Presentations
The afternoon welcomed the presentation of the work of KAFRED in Uganda by Helen Bandash. KAFRED works to preserve the Bigodi Wetlands Sanctuary near the Kibale National Park by sustainably using grasses that are dried and made into products that are sold at the tourist center. All women in the group know how to make the grass products. Additionally the group works collaboratively with tourist groups coming from the Wildlife Park. Profits collected from the local tourism are given to the community group in order to support conservation activities.
The Association de Trabajadores Autonomos San Rafael (ASARATY) was the last presentation of the day. Presented by Juan Rafael Uschca Shanbi and Juan Rodrigo Yanqui Puebla, the group works to collaboratively manage an 8,000 hectare area of Andes mountains grasslands. Working in an area adjacent to the Sangay National Park, the group has established a participatory planning process to raise Alpacas, market wool products and develop ecotourism.
To finish the day, the Community Kampung hosted a reception for RARE International. After a lecture on the innovative ways to increase conservation awareness, food was served and a large pink flamingo livened up the space.