Communication for conservation in Eastern Africa: New book chapter by CEC's Hesselink and Zeidler
10 July 2012 | News story
The book 'Conservation and Sustainable Development' presents a variety of innovative approaches to influencing policy processes. Two CEC members identify common errors and ways to improve impact through communication.
A new book edited by IUCN's Jonathan Davies looks at the links between policy and practice in natural resource management. Chapter 8 -- Bringing conservation science to life: The role of communication to support policy processes in Africa -- draws on the expertize of CEC members Frits Hesselink and Juliane Zeidler. Frits is CEC Special Advisor and head of the HECT Consultancy in Utrecht, Netherlands.Their chapter explores a wide range of innovative forms of communication that have been particularly effective at improving the influence of research on decision-making. Juliane is CEC Regional Vice-Chair for East and Southern Africa and Director and Senior Consultant for Integrated Environmental Consultants Namibia (IECN) in Windhoek, Namibia.
The CEC members identify lessons from their experience that speak to a common complaint of conservations, which is that many policies do not adequately reflect the science of conservation biology or the evidence-based knowledge from practical conservation projects. Another complaint is that policy-makers do not listen enough to the science. The authors contend that the way scientists communicate conservation limits their impact on policy. The authors provide a list of common errors:
- Letting facts, figures and other evidence speak for themselves;
- Using communication as an add-on and not integrating it within the project;
- Not being aware of the principles of systemic change;
- Forgetting that influencing policy means influencing people;
- Using messages that do not stick;
- Applying wrong communication approaches or wrong expertise;
- Forgetting to develop a strategy;
- Sticking to old-fashioned prejudices regarding spin, style and PR.
The authors then explores these issues in light of practical examples from their professional experience.
For more information about the book, see the Routledge website >>
The publisher provides the following introduction: Conservation and Sustainable Development presents a variety of innovative ways that have been used to influence policy processes, from community pressure groups through elected and unelected leaders, to scientific discourse at the levels of directors of economic planning and conservation. This book analyzes experiences from a variety of conservation interventions by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and other agencies, primarily in Eastern Africa, and challenges the notion of policymaking as a cyclical process. It elaborates on this theme and presents an array of examples of how communities have influenced government, through direct lobbying, influence of parliamentarians, wielding of science and research, and inter-community dialogue, networking and solidarity. The authors present a framework for understanding and strategizing such work so that other institutions can identify where they can best add value.