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Sharing Environmental Responsibility in Southeast Mexico: Participatory Processes for Natural Resource Management

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Currie-Alder, Bruce
Conference: The Commons in an Age of Global Transition: Challenges, Risks and Opportunities, the Tenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Oaxaca, Mexico
Conf. Date: August 9-13
Date: 2004
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/344
Sector: Social Organization
General & Multiple Resources
Region: Central America & Caribbean
Subject(s): IASC
participatory management--case studies
resource management--case studies
social change
Abstract: "According to Mexican legislation 'the federal government must promote the co-responsible participation of society in... environmental policy and natural resources.' (Art. 157, DOF 1988). In recent years various participatory processes have been initiated where natural resource management is shared between government and civil society. This research unites the perspectives of people involved in three processes: the Grijalva- Usumacinta Watershed Council for freshwater resources, the Consultative Council on Sustainable Development for environmental policy and the Consultative Council for Terminos Lagoon for protected area conservation. Thirty-five people were interviewed in order to understand how participation works in practice, to prompt participants to reflect on their experiences, and to identify opportunities for mutual learning amongst the processes studied. "For each of the processes studied, this report provides a description of the problems faced; the process origin, purpose and structure; and a summary of participant perspectives. These processes are not perfect; yet they are a potentially more equitably alternative for dealing with the multiple pressure on natural resource use. This report identifies opportunities to improve each process and move towards more sustainable development that benefits all of Mexican society. In general, five steps for fostering a culture of participation are: (1) create a common commitment amongst different levels of government, (2) consider stakeholder motivations, (3) foster discussion on the purpose of participation, (4) create horizontal structures, and (5) establish mechanisms to ensure transparency and representation. "The existence of these processes is part of a new culture of participation that is emerging where citizens take an active role in what was previously the exclusive responsibility of government. Although government continues to administer these resources in the name of the public, civil society is an increasingly co-responsible partner in the stewardship and conservation of the country's natural resources."

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