Unpacking Power Dynamics in Natural Resource Management: Bringing Indigenous People’s Perspectives to the Fore in an Environmental Evaluation in Northeastern Cambodia

2013 EENP Forum

Day 2: Sept 23, 2013 • 10:45am • Ballard Hall Large Conference Room

By Yuko Yoneda

Who should hold what kind of rights, responsibilities and accountabiliteis for sustainable resource management? In partnership with 3 local NGOs working with indigenous communities in northeastern Cambodia, Oxfam America engaged multiple stakeholders in grappling with this question through participatory evaluation last year. Using this experience as an entry point, the session will re-examine the role and value of participatory evaluation in analyzing competing interests and power dynamics among local communities, civil society, the government and the private sector, and draw lessons for broader community for future environmental evaluations.

I have 14 years of experience in program design, monitoring and evaluation with CARE, Concern, ActionAid and Oxfam America. Working at the national and regional levels, I have supported various programs and local partners, including those involved in community-based natural resource management, to internalize practice of learning and accountability. For the last 2 years, I have been working with Oxfam America as East Asia Regional Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning Coordinator.


1 Comment

  1. Matt Keene
    18 September 13, 6:22am

    More information about what Yuko and Alyssa plan to discuss during their session…looking like a winner. Thanks for the extra effort and providing additional information!

    Monday, September 23, 2013

    Unpacking Power Dynamics in Natural Resource Management: Bringing Indigenous People’s Perspectives to the Fore in an Environmental Evaluation in Northeastern Cambodia
    Yuko Yoneda, Oxfam America

    Evaluation of Bio-Cultural Conservation Programs and Projects
    Alyssa Miller, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

    Conventionally, planning and evaluation of natural resource management is typified by top-down, standardized measurement and approaches. There is a risk, however, that insistence on hard evidence and scientific measurement overlooks intimate, interdependent relationships that local societies have historically maintained with their environment, and reduces rich social, cultural heritage to a mere “object” to be targeted and measured. Nowhere is this risk more evident than among indigenous communities, to whom environmental resources are inherently intertwined with their traditional, local value systems, shaping their religious belief, cultural identity and ways of life.

    Alyssa works with the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and World Heritage Site, of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and grapples with this challenge of integrating Native Hawaiian values and knowledge systems with mainstream western scientific approaches to management planning and evaluation.

    In today’s dynamic, interconnected world, furthermore, indigenous peoples no longer retain relative isolation or autonomy in living with the nature, but interface with a range of stakeholders with shared or competing values and interests in relation to environmental resources. In this context, it is social and political dynamics among a multitude of stakeholders that account for resource management practices. In this sense, today’s complex environmental challenge may not be met by conventional, top-down approaches that put responsibilities for identifying and assessing technically sound solutions on the shoulders of experts.

    Yuko works with indigenous communities in northeastern Cambodia, whose rights to natural resources are increasingly threatened by the government-sponsored land concessions to the private sector under the name of “economic development”. Her burning question is how to empower indigenous communities to protect their rights and environment vis-à-vis the government and companies.

    Our proposition is to bring multiple perspectives, particularly those of local communities, into planning and evaluating natural resource management. In this session, we would like to explore with you how we may use participatory approaches to do so. Participants are encouraged to share their knowledge of and experiences with using ‘integrative’ ‘participatory’ and ‘developmental’ approaches and tools. Related to this, how can we as evaluators be more systematic about communicating about our approaches and practices, in order to learn from each other about how to make evaluations more responsive to local contexts, and more accountable to local communities and other stakeholders.

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