Conservation and Sustainable Development: Linking Practice and Policy in Eastern Africa

Conservation and Sustainable Development: Linking Practice and Policy in Eastern Africa

Conservation and Sustainable Development: Linking Practice and Policy in Eastern Africa

Conservation and Sustainable Development: Linking Practice and Policy in Eastern Africa


The links between policy and practice in natural resource management are often depicted as a cyclical and rational process. In reality, policymaking and implementation are often irrational, unpredictable and highly political. Many science and knowledge-based institutions undertake rigorous research with the aim of influencing policy, but often their influence is much less than intended. Understanding who influences policy at different levels, and how, is crucial to ensure that science is deployed most effectively so as to have an influence on conservation and natural resource management.

Conservation and Sustainable Developmentpresents 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.


As 2015 approaches – the date set to meet the Millennium Development Goals – we are acutely aware that the joint challenges of reducing poverty and ensuring environmental sustainability are greater than ever. In 2011 famine again rears its ugly head in the Horn of Africa, reflecting the extent to which poverty remains entrenched and the high degree of food insecurity in the region. Climate change is becoming more evident, further burdening populations that are already struggling to adapt and develop. Underlying all of this is an ongoing degradation of natural resources that threatens the development processes and entrenches poverty in much of the region.

Our development depends on nature, and if development in our region is to proceed it must be based on sustainable management of the ecosystems that support life. Although this s the people who hold the answers for policy-makers – farmers, pastoralists and other natural resource users – are not connected to them or lack the skills and opportunities to make their case and share their experiences.

This book shows that there are genuine opportunities to achieve positive development and environment outcomes together. Environmental concerns do not have to displace development priorities, but in order to achieve these winwins it is necessary to rethink the way environment and development are planned. Translating locally proven good practices into nationally supported policies and investments requires strong partnerships at different levels to improve communication and evaluation of experiences, and to identify policies that really work.

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