Posted tagged ‘governance institutions’

PEOPLE, PROTECTED AREAS, GLOBAL CHANGE

August 19, 2008

 

Erle Frayne Argonza

 

There were so many areas across countries that were declared as ‘protected areas’ in the past years. In my own country, the Philippines, no less than a separate bureau was created to focus on the matter of protected areas.

 

It is now time to evaluate the impact of the various intervention efforts focusing on protected areas and how they mitigate ecological problems for people.

 

Below is an example of a cross-national study that focuses precisely on protected areas.

 

[10 August 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila. Thanks to eldis.org database news.]

 

 

 

People, protected areas and global change: participatory conservation in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe

Authors: Galvin,M.; Haller,T.
Produced by: NCCR North South (2008)

This document compares findings from in-depth research on protected area (PA) management in Latin America Africa, Asia and Europe. It describes how PAs have been managed over the last 50-100 years and considers the ecological, social and economic benefits brought by enhanced participation. The case studies presented in the book are from Bolivia, Argentina, Peru, Tanzania, Madagascar, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Switzerland, Indonesia, Nepal, and Vietnam.

These individual studies look at the problems people face and at environmental issues from a variety of angles, including governance and institutions, different actors’ interests and strategies, livelihoods and natural resources, and economic and political contexts. The authors highlight lessons learnt, best practices, and potentials for mitigation of negative impacts with respect to conservation of landscapes and biodiversity.

It is argued that relations between PAs and local people are difficult because perspectives on nature, natural resources and conservation are closely interlinked with restrictions and competition in land and resource use, as well as other rights. The case studies highlight that the understanding of participation also varies greatly in all cases, as does the role of development.

The basic lessons learnt from the literature and case studies are summarised as follows:

  1.  
    • although most of the PAs studied are participatory in their formal structure, this does not translate into economic benefits for local people
    • power issues and issues of ideology are used strategically by all actors in order to structure governance and the underlying institutions for their own gain
    • for local actors political gains may be an incentive to strategically subscribe to conservation goals, especially if they have ownership of the decision-making process

Available online at: http://www.eldis.org/cf/rdr/?doc=38428&em=310708&sub=enviro

TRI-SECTOR SYNERGY FOR DEVELOPMENT

April 28, 2008

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

[Writ 22 March 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

 

Within a nation-state, from micro to macro levels, there better be cooperation among the three main sectors of development: state, market, civil society. I stressed this well in the New Nationalism article.

 

The emerging term for cooperation today is ‘synergy’. In the original sense of the term, it denoted the causal chain of “one thing leading to another.” It had since become a staple term in ecology and cybernetics. Gradually the meaning of the term underwent change.

 

Today the term ‘synergy’ had come closer to the term ‘symbiosis’ of ecology. The neo-Weberians were among the advocates of this largely symbiotic signification, applied to the three sectors. Joel Migdal, Vivienne Shue, Theda Skocpol and Peter Evans are among these chief advocates of synergism as strategy for effecting development.

 

Synergism isn’t really new here in Asia, even here in my country of origin. For centuries now,  we had at the grassroots  level the ‘bayanihan’, practiced by helping each other in times of need. Bayanihan’s closest translation is gemeinschaft (Ferdinand Toennies’ term) or community. It means synergy precisely in today’s context.

 

There is no way that we should go back to the old days of looking at the state and civil society as relating in a perpetual state of clash. The first time that Alinsky was discussed in my sociology classes in the late 70s, I had some goose bumps about his notion of a perpetual clash, almost akin to the ‘permanent revolution thesis’ at the grassroots level. I said to myself that “this won’t work in the Philippines.” If given the chance for grassroots work, I will never apply Alinsky at all.

 

Look at the destructive effects of the ‘clash thesis’ during the 80s and 90s here. There was a time when massive strikes were the in thing most specially after Martial Law, and look at the downgrading effects they had on productivity. It was near to chaos during certain moments than.

 

Contrast that today with a healthy synergy of trade unions and management, which shot up Philippine labor-management relations to being the world’s top (per ILO update). As strikes had decreased, productivity likewise immensely increased. We are now a model of industrial peace here, thanks to the new paradigm of synergism thru the efforts of the University of the Philippines’ School of Labor and Industrial Relations.

 

However, in the past decades, before 1986, civil society players were merely kibitzers of development here. So to a certain extent the attrition caused by civil society on the state earned this sector its right to be recognized as a co-partner in development. For a long time after independence (1946), only the market and state players were in dialogue, leaving marginal groups and sectors out of the development game.

 

Now that civil society had earned its keep, its players should shift in mindset from clash-oriented (Alinsky-inspired) models to synergistic models (inspired by bayanihan, Gandhi, Evans) of development. Even the post-Martial Law constitution recognized this potency of civil society, and thus entitled the colossal sector to rights never before it enjoyed.

 

I hope this synergistic mindset is currently emerging among all the nations of the world. It is among the progenitors of the peace condition, of development with peace and of peace with development.

 

The basic contention is summed up by the excerpts from the article, to wit:

 

Promote synergy with civil society in the development path.

 

In the old formulations, development was an exclusive endeavor of state and market players. That is, the directions of development were largely the handiworks of political, bureaucratic and corporate elites. There should be an admission that this structural formulation was a factor in generating the crisis-level ailments of mass poverty, large-scale unemployment, low wages, sluggish growth and dependence. So why retain a formula that had failed us miserably?

 

The current context, where a dynamic and colossal civil society operates, points to the ever-growing recognition of the potent role of civil society in co-determining the compass of development. At the grassroots level, development efforts will be accelerated to a great extent by involving civil society formations acting as ‘social capital’ base, as studies have positively demonstrated (citations from Peter Evans’ works on ‘state-society synergy’). Insulating the state from grassroots folks, as the same studies have shown, have produced dismal if not tragic effects, e.g. India’s non-involvement of ‘social capital’ in the erection and maintenance of irrigation facilities resulted to program failure in the end.

 

Building and maintaining ecologically sound, clean cities can likewise be effected through the tri-partnership of state, civil society and market, as demonstrated by the Puerto Princesa case. Under the stewardship of the dynamic city mayor (Mr. Hagedorn), the tri-partnership was galvanized. Businesses have since been conscious of operating on clean technologies and environmental responsibilities, city streets sustain hygienic images, traffic is well managed as motorists exude discipline, and civil society groups constantly monitor the initiatives that saw their hands dipped into their (initiatives) making. All we need to do is replicate this same Puerto Princesan trilateral partnering at all level and in all communities to ensure better results for our development efforts.

 

The ‘state-society synergy’ in our country had just recently been appreciated and grasped by many state players. Being at its ‘take-off’ phase, it is understandable that synergy is only a lip-service among many state players, notably the local officials. State players still regard civil society groups with ambivalence, while civil society groups are suspicious of state players whose sincerity can only be as low as their Machiavellian propensities would dictate. Such local state players desire to subordinate civil society groups, and many politicians have constituted ‘government-initiated NGOs’ or GRINGOS as cases of non-authentic subordinated groups. On the other hand, local-level volunteer groups can at best perceive domestic politicians as ‘Santa Claus’ providers, and utilize them largely as gift-giving patrons. Strengthening state-society synergy has a long way to yet, but it is not exactly starting at ground zero in this country. It is, by and large, a core variable in developing citizenry and constituencies, and must be advanced beyond its current take-off phase.

THE STATE IS NO ‘BIG MAMA’ BUT AN ENABLER

April 28, 2008

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

[Writ 22 March 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

 

To continue, in the same article on New Nationalism, this author took up the contention about the shift from ‘provider state’ to ‘enabler state’ model. I agree to a large degree with Peter Evans regarding the matter in his elucidations on synergism and development.

 

While I argue strongly for a dirigist paradigm of development, I do not at all go for maximum state intervention such as the ones experimented on in socialist states and welfare states. Government is no Big Mama nor Santa Claus that provides everything for its citizens.

 

There should always be room for private initiatives, social spaces for people to think creatively and innovatively to provide for their own needs. State and civil society can come in to do enabling tasks when needed, but not to role-play as the Big Mama Forever of her infantile clientele who are forever dependent on ‘milk from mama’ (dole-outs, essentials of life).

 

Unfortunately, many experts today, including those with PhDs and advanced studies, haven’t gotten away with the ‘provider state’ model of development. To my own shock, I found out lately that my close friends in the academic and development fields still bear the old fogey mindset of a Big Mama state model. The rugs have already changed under their feet!

 

Consider for instance a musician friend in the University of the Philippines. He felt bad that state funds for musicians have dried up in the Philippines, but has been flowing like honey for sports. I had to explain to him that the music industry is already very mature here, that musicians and industry leaders themselves can produce and propagate music without any further state assistance, that the ‘music sector’ is in fact a model sector of an industry that had already reached a very mature level of development.

 

The same pal is as old as myself (late 40s) and has simply been accustomed to old habits. The Martial Law regime here (1972-86) was particularly very supportive of music, and the former 1st Lady Imelda Marcos took on the cudgels for state support for the culture industry including music and theatre. But that was long ago!

 

The music industry was then in its high growth state, and badly needed state support for that steep climb to glory. But eventually, the musicians and industrialists like the Jacinto family who went into musical instrument manufacturing (one of the Jacintos is s musical giant here) took upon themselves the duties for lifting up the sector. The airwaves were reformed, so that 50% of the time the radio stations should air Filipino music. And Philippine music succeeded stunningly!

 

Today the industry had matured to meteoric heights. But many musicians feel and think like it’s still the infantile days of the sector. Look at how dependency can blind people including university-based experts such as the professor of music that I’m citing here (name withheld).

 

For further elucidation, let me quote entirely the excerpts from the essay, to note:

 

Shift intervention from the ‘provider state’ to the ‘enabler state’.

 

The failure of neo-liberal policy regimes does not mean that the state should go back to a full interventionist role, performing a guardian regulator and ‘provider’ for all sorts of services. The problem with the excessive ‘provider’ role is that it had (a) bred rent-seeking on a massive scale among market players, (b) reinforced dependence among grassroots folks who have since been always expecting for a ‘Santa Claus state’ to provide abundant candies, (c) produced new forms of rent-seeking, with civil society groups serving as the beneficiaries, and (d) further reinforced graft practices in both the public and private sectors. Thus, the ‘provider state’ further reinforced  the patron-client relations in the various spheres of life (‘feudalism’ is the term used by Maoists for clientelism), consequently dragging all of our development efforts into a turtle-paced sojourn.

 

In the new intervention mode, the state, armed with a leaner organization and trimmed down budgetary purse, performs a superb catalytic role. It engages various stakeholders in the growth & development efforts, challenges them to directly embark on development pursuits, and demonstrates unto them how welfare can be accessed to through alternative means other than through the state’s baskets. As the state continuously engages the stakeholders through dialogue and cooperation, institutions will also become strengthened along the way. The state will gain its esteem as an ‘activist state’, while at the same time receive acclaim as a truly ‘modernizing state’ as it propels society gradually away from clientelism towards a context marked by rule-based (modern) institutions, citizenry and dynamic/autonomous constituencies.

 

However, within a transition period from ‘maximum provider’ to ‘maximum enabler,’ the state should continue to perform a provider role in such areas as education, health and such other human development concerns that are, in the main, crucial to building national wealth. Combining state regulations and at the same time giving ‘fiscal autonomy’ in tertiary education and vocational-technical level would remain to be a fitful strategy of ‘minimal enabler’. A similar strategy will have to be applied to some other economic sectors to be able to advance gender equity, by recognizing rights of marginalized gender to education, employment, representation in managerial positions and other related concerns.