Providing extension services to support local environmental management

Improving institutional cooperation with indigenous people on local environmental management
Strengthening official support of resource management by rural populations
This strategy features in the framework of Agenda 21 as formulated at UNCED (Rio de Janeiro, 1992), now coordinated by the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development and implemented through national and local authorities.
A World Bank study made the following recommendations for working in partnership with indigenous peoples: recognizing their land rights, incorporating their environmental knowledge into wildlands and native area planning, and paying more serious attention to the economics and resource implications of local activities to harvest wild resources - especially in environmentally delicate areas such as tropical rainforests. The major finding of the report is that a fundamental shift has started in the way in which the international conservation community has come to view the issue of planning in areas which are occupied and used by indigenous peoples. Under the traditional paradigm, represented by several National Parks, wildlife reserves and other types of protected areas where indigenous peoples have aboriginal claims, indigenous peoples are allowed to continue to occupy and use the resources of these areas but only so long as they use the natural resources sustainably. This use, agreed with the park authorities, should reconcile the needs of both the indigenous peoples and the conservationists. Experience has found that these needs can be reconciled and made compatible, although this is far from being routine. Clearly major deforestation or firearm hunting for commerce by indigenous peoples are not compatible with wildlands protection. Where indigenous people and park authorities do not agree, then either the park or the people are encouraged to move.

Whilst formerly widespread in Central Thailand, the populartity of rice-fish culture began to be replaced by more profitable agricultural technologies from the early 1970's. These technologies are of limited applicability in Northeast Thailand, where rice-fish culture began to spread in the early 1980s, following rapid declines in traditional wild fish sources. NGOs were among the first to notice its increasing popularity and to bring it to the attention of several government agencies. Subsequently, on-farm, farmer managed trials by the Department of Agriculture helped to confirm the viability of the practice, and to bring it to the attention of policy-makers. Considering these results and their own experiences, the Department of Fisheries has assigned a high priority to the extension of rice-fish culture in Northeast Thailand. The Department of Agriculture Extension is also involved in extending the practice there and elsewhere. Research efforts continue to address factors limiting the adoption and productivity of the technology. Major extension efforts are expected to continue. The relationship between government and non-government agencies is largely informal. Some examples of contacts which have been mutually beneficial are given, and possible ways of strengthening institutional linkages are discussed. Most are open to debate, but all relate to improved communications, be it in style, content or frequency.

1. Countries and the UN system should increase their interaction with and include, as appropriate, indigenous people in the management, planning and development of their local environment, and should promote dissemination of traditional and socially learned knowledge through means based on local customs, especially in rural areas, integrating these efforts with the electronic media, whenever appropriate.

2. The role of intergovernmental and nongovernmental international agencies in conservation and rural development is contrasted with the role of governments. The inseparable relationship between conservation and development provides the only basis for the long-term success of either activity. Governments are advised to pay attention to the concept of ecodevelopment, in which provision is made for meeting basic needs, and achieving self-reliance within a context of ecological sustainability.

Type Classification:
E: Emanations of other strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 1: No PovertyGOAL 7: Affordable and Clean EnergyGOAL 8: Decent Work and Economic GrowthGOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 15: Life on LandGOAL 17: Partnerships to achieve the Goal