Theme on Governance, Equity and Rights (TGER)

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Janis Alcorn, Adalberto Padilla, Juanita Cabrera Lopez

CEESP participates in Natural Resource Governance Framework (NRGF) Scoping Workshop in Central America, December 2013

At the invitation of Dr. Grethel Aguilar Rojas, Regional Director of the IUCN Regional Office for Mesoamerica and the Caribbean (ORMA), NRGF Working Group members Dr. Janis Alcorn (Chair CEESP TGER), Juanita Cabrera-Lopez (Co-Chair CEESP SPICEH), and Adalberto Padilla (CEESP member and IUCN senior officer in Mesoamerica) led the Natural Resources Governance Framework (NRGF) Regional Scoping Workshop at the ORMA offices in San Jose, Costa Rica, on 3 December 2013. …  

11 Dec 2013 | Article

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Natural Resource Governance Framework Inception Workshop - July 2013

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Natural Resource Governance Framework Inception Workshop Participants, Airlie Center


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What is TGER

The Theme on Governance, Equity and Rights (TGER) is one of the main work Themes mandated to CEESP by the IUCN Members' Assembly at the Third World Conservation Congress in Bangkok (November 2004), and renewed in the subsequent WCCs in Barcelona and Jeju. The TGER Theme directly evolved from the work of the CEESP Collaborative Management Working Group (CMWG), active from 1996 to 2004, which promoted and supported field-based co-management initiatives, derived lessons and methods from experience, supported the development of policies, and advocated the inclusion of CM principles and practices in the programmes and structures of IUCN and other organizations. The CMWG tradition of supporting good practice linked to good policy has continued under TGER.

TGER takes inspiration from IUCN Resolutions endorsed by the IUCN Members' Assembly in Bangkok, Barcelona and Jeju.

Governance of Natural Resources

If one issue is central for the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable and equitable use of natural resources this is-undoubtedly-governance. Due in part to the impulse of IUCN and its Commissions, governance has come into the policy spotlight. Governance has to do with power, relationships, responsibility and accountability. A specific “governance setting” for a body of natural resources reflects what a society enables as fair, or is prepared to accept as such; the setting defines the whos and hows of authority, responsibility and accountability regarding natural resources. Clearly, governance depends on formal institutions, processes, tenure and access to resources and other legal rights. For instance, governance settings change dramatically when authorities open up to pluralism and recognize multiple interests and values in society. But governance also depends on history, culture, customary rights, access to information, presence of markets, financial flows and a variety of informal influences on decisions. Governance affects the achievement of the relevant management objectives (effectiveness), the sharing of costs and benefits (equity) and the generation and sustenance of community, political and financial support towards sound management of natural resources.

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Within CEESP, TGER closely cooperates with TILCEPA - around good governance for protected areas, including Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas (ICCAs); with SPICEH on aspects of environmental law related to indigenous peoples and traditional communities, with TCC around the cultural aspects of governance and rights; with SEAPRISE, as appropriate; with TSL, on demonstrating mutual support between improved governance of natural resources and enhanced livelihoods, and with TECS on issues related to conflict and governance. TGER is engaged in learning via the field initiatives of its members, and brings that knowledge to IUCN.

TGER Members

  • TGER members are individuals with concern and expertise on the practice and theory of governance of natural resources, equity, and human rights who agree to engage and collaborate with others towards better understanding and action on these subjects. The members generally offer their contributions on a volunteer basis. They can be compensated for their professional activities if funds are available through specific projects or programmes.
  • Membership in TGER is open to members of the CEESP Commission.
  • Membership is by invitation, which is issued by the TGER Chair on behalf of the CEESP Chair, or on the recommendation of experienced TGER members if the work of the candidate is not well known by the Chair.
  • The TGER membership is currently comprised of over 250 members from over 50 countries.
  • Members contribute according to their individual commitments and opportunities, and can focus their interest in one or more specific sub-topics within the CEESP four year workplan.

Specific areas of work and sharing 

Within the broad perspective and scope of the Theme, different members focus on different areas of inquiry and action. These include:

Understanding and improving governance of natural resources

  • good governance. How can processes of participatory governance evaluation be best facilitated and supported? Can those be a path towards effective and long-lasting governance improvements?
  • governance types for protected areas, including recognition, legitimisation and support for a variety of governance types, with emphasis on community conserved areas and co- managed protected areas;
  • governance of landscape. What have we learned about the governance of large scale units such as eco-regions including protected areas of variable type and category, Model Forests, Natural Regional Parks and the like?

A rights-based approach to conservation

  • promoting a rights based approach to conservation. What is a rights-based approach to conservation? What concrete benefits can be expected from its adoption and implementation? Who will enjoy those benefits? What can TGER/CEESP do to assist the IUCN members and partners in adopting such an approach?
  • the social impact of conservation. What are the main positive and negative consequences of establishing protected areas? Is there a link between biodiversity conservation and local poverty?
  • governance and security. actors determining human and environmental security need to be appreciated as crucial for conservation and sustainable livelihoods, and to be effectively incorporated in the governance of natural resources.
  • understanding the institutional implication of a rights-based approach and social accountability in conservation. Improved policies and practices need to foster and support the social accountability of conservation agencies, towards a more gender equitable sharing of costs and benefits of conservation.

Strategic approaches

The TGER members pursue their aim by following the strategic CEESP plan developed in 2009, and adjusted in 2013, in continuity with previous work of CMWG and TILCEPA and in close collaboration with the other Themes and Working Groups of CEESP. Work strategic directions include:

  • The Natural Resources Governance Framework Working Group (NRGF WG) that includes thirty CEESP TGER member experts who have committed to work on the IUCN NRGF initiative. NRGF WG members cover the breadth range of expertise and networks that they can engage in the discussions and debates required for creating something new. They also cover the regions of our Earth. Both of these characteristics are required to build the governance assessment tools that will be both standardized to produce comparable governance results, and sufficiently flexible that they can be adapted to the diverse national and local situations. The NRGF WG is leading CEESPs contribution to developing the IUCN Natural Resources Governance Framework, collaborating closely with the Secretariat, other Commissions and IUCN members.

  • field-based, participatory action research : fostering the review and analysis of relevant knowledge and field experience in various regions and ecosystems; at different levels (e.g. local, regional, multi-country); in various societies (e.g. sedentary, mobile/ nomadic, indigenous); under various land-tenure conditions (e.g. protected area, public land, communal, private) and with the full participation of various actors in society (e.g. governments, NGOs, local communities, indigenous peoples, gender and socio-economic groups); this includes developing documentation and exchanging knowledge and experience, as relevant, among the IUCN constituency and partners while fostering active communication among them; flexible methods and tools will be sought in support of improved governance of natural resources, equity and human rights, in particular with a direct link to specific targets of the CBD and other international conventions;
  • capacity building : pursuing various avenues to enhance the capacity of the IUCN constituency and partners to understand and effectively engage in support of improved governance of natural resources, equity and human rights, in particular among development and conservation practitioners and civil society at large. Learning by doing will be the avenue of choice, in relevant field sites where initiatives that improve the governance of natural resources at local, national and transboundary level and promote equity and the respect of human rights can be variously encouraged and provided technical support;
  • networking : assisting regional networks to identify and evaluate crucial opportunities for change (e.g. in policy) and to develop recommendations appropriate to the circumstances of each region; in particular the regional initiatives and discussion lists will strive to provide a forum where individual members can exchange ideas and experience and support one another technically and politically, as needed, towards improved governance of natural resources, equity and human rights.
  • communication: The Urundei Exchange Video Voices Initiative is promoting the use of local video on YouTube and other venues to bring local voices and their biodiversity-related concerns onto the global radar.
  • policy advocacy : engaging the IUCN constituency and partners in constructive debates about governance of natural resources, equity and human rights and on the (usually multiple) ways in which positive change can be sought, in particular concerning the IUCN and other conservation, development or donor organizations, as well as international agreements and conventions

Structure, Roles and Responsibilities

The TGER Chair serves as focal point in the CEESP Steering Committee, and promotes and represents the interests and concerns of the TGER in appropriate forums. Working Groups and Task Forces arise around particular issues according to their relevance to IUCN, the CEESP workplan, and the interests of voluntary members to lead them. The Chair fosters collaboration and joint initiatives with other Themes and Working Groups of CEESP where they partially overlap in terms of key concerns and work objectives.

Working Groups within TGER are structured as appropriate for the issue, under the leadership of those Working Group and Task Force leaders.

Communication System

TGER members can utilize various dedicated platforms for internal and external communication.

  • Electronic discussion lists The TGER discussion list (TGER@LISTS.IUCN.ORG) is open to TGER members only and dedicated to matters of relevance to governance of natural resources, equity and rights.
  • TheTGER web site is the site you are visiting now. Other sites of relevance are the key topics pages on Shared Governance and on ICCAs 

Natural Resource Governance Framework (NRGF) Inception Workshop


Issue briefs/ touchstones from the CEESP Natural Resource Governance Framework (NRGF) Working Group

Publications by TGER Members

The publications by TGER members are many and unfortunately we cannot report about them all as we are not always kept informed. Please view the list below of publications. More publications by TGER members are listed here.

Recent TGER Members' work:

Colfer, C. J. P. 2013a. The Gender Box: A Framework for Analysing Gender Roles in Forest Management. CIFOR Occasional Paper 82:46.

Colfer, C. J. P. 2013b. The Ups and Downs of Institutional Learning: Reflections on the Emergence and Conduct of Adaptive Collaborative Management at the Center for International Forestry Research. Pages 48-102 in Hemant Ojha, Andy Hall and Rasheed V Sulaiman, editors. Adaptive Collaborative Approaches in Natural Resource Governance: Rethinking Participation, Learning and Innovation. Earthscan/Routledge, London

Colfer, C. J. P., and R. D. Minarchek. 2012a. Forest Research and Gender: A Review of Available Methods for Promoting Equity. Forests, Trees and Livelihoods 21:1-20.

Colfer, C. J. P., and R. D. Minarchek. 2012b. Women, men and forest research: A review of approaches, resources and methods for addressing gender. CIFOR Occasional Paper 80:36p.

Jonas H. et al., Legal and Institutional Aspects of Recognizing and Supporting Conservation by Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities: An Analysis of International Law, National Legislation, Judgements and Insitutions as they interrelate with Territories and Areas Conserved by Indigenous Peoples and local communities. Natural Justice and Kalpavriksh, Bangalore and Pune (2012). The study includes 15 national level reports and an analysis of international law. ICCA Legal Review

Jonas H., E. Makagon and H. Shrumm, The Living Convention on Biocultural Diversity: A Compendium of Indigenous Peoples’ and Local Communities’ Rights Relevant to Maintaining the Integrity and Resilience of Territories and other Biocultural Systems. Natural Justice, South Africa (2012). The Living Convention on Biocultural Diversity

Kothari, A., with C. Corrigan, H. Jonas, A. Neumann, and H. Shrumm (eds). Recognising and Supporting Territories and Areas Conserved By Indigenous Peoples And Local Communities: Global Overview and National Case Studies. Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, ICCA Consortium, Kalpavriksh, and Natural Justice, Montreal, Canada. Technical Series no. 64. (2012). CBD Technical Series 

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    Photo: IUCN CEESP

Policy Matters 15: Conservation and Human Rights
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Policy Guidelines for EU Development Policy: Biodiversity Benefits from Community Governance
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Briefing Note 8: Governance for Effective Protected Areas Systems
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