Puzzle pieces or poker chips? What people bring to the table in “multistakeholder” processes

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Online seminar (via Zoom) followed by Q&A – all welcome. NB – all times in UK time

There is nothing particularly new about the idea of supporting participatory processes to address conservation, sustainable development or climate initiatives. But there is a new risk, as the need for “transformational change” pulls in two directions. On the one hand, addressing land use change in light of the climate crisis is recognized as a complex and wicked problem that requires policy and practice at all levels to be aligned toward a common vision. Hence, the call for participation, collaboration and coordination is heard virtually everywhere in these arenas. On the other, there is an overriding sense of urgency – it we do not act soon, we will lose the climate battle. Urgency has always overridden the slow and messy processes of participation and democracy, and of assuring the rights and livelihoods of indigenous peoples and local communities. How do we address the climate crisis hand in hand with the crisis of growing inequality? How do assure that certain “trade-offs” are not on the table? This talk draws on a comparative study of 13 subnational multistakeholder forums (MSFs) in four countries. It looks specifically at the interests and perspectives of indigenous peoples in these forums, who are overall optimistic but far more likely to be skeptical in comparison to other participants – and to see the risk of putting all their cards on the table. The results suggest the importance of addressing power and inequality as an integral part of any serious strategy for change.

Anne M. Larson has been a Principal Scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) since 2012. She is currently the Team Leader for Equal Opportunities, Gender, Justice and Tenure at CIFOR and also co-coordinates the Governance of Natural Resources flagship of the Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM) CGIAR Research Program. Now in Washington DC, she was based in Latin America for most of the past 35 years, and with CIFOR in Lima, Peru, through 2019. She obtained her PhD in 2001 from U.C. Berkeley in Wildland Resource Science, with an emphasis on resource policy and institutions. Her current research priorities include land and forest tenure security; multilevel governance and multi-stakeholder processes to address climate change and support “low emissions” development; and environmental justice and human rights (indigenous rights, gender). Anne serves on the Council of the International Land Coalition (ILC), the board of directors of the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) and the CGIAR Gender Platform Management Committee.