CAMPAS is seen by the Royal Government of Cambodia and relevant stakeholders as an opportunity to change the “business as usual” model of limited real participation, collaboration and cooperation among stakeholders and embrace a team approach to biodiversity management. While this is not always easy as there are historical barriers: stakeholder participation is at the root of the team approach to implementation for the project. The strong project emphasis on building a biodiversity vision among the stakeholders is an integral consideration in the building of a team approach, and breaking down of barriers.
Within Government, while the project is implemented by the Ministry of Environment’s General Department of Administration Nature Conservation and Protection (GDANCP), there is a real effort and allocated funds to promote positive participation in project implementation from other related Departments and Ministries and especially the Forestry Administration (FA) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. This strong Government collaboration is supported at policy level through the cross-Ministerial National Biodiversity Steering Committee (NBSC) and cross-Ministerial Biodiversity Technical Working Group (BTWG) supports practical implementation. This is also evidenced by the Government’s promotion of the unusual NGO consortium approach supporting the project preparation.
At the Eastern Plains Landscape level strong coordination and collaboration across the Government sector is enhanced through the existing provincial sub-committee, and further supported by direct engagement of the major non-government organizations working in the landscape. Stakeholder representatives of local government agencies and non-government organizations will be invited to participate in the landscape committees or working groups, as appropriate. The stakeholder participation at the community level will be supported through ranger capacity and existing community committees (such as Community Protected Area committees, Community Forestry committees, Indigenous Community Commissions, and Community Fishery committees). There is also a significant opportunity to better engage with the private sector and local communities, support attainment of Aichi64 Target 1, stating that “By 2020, at the latest people are aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably.”
This section seeks to provide a good basis for considering and effectively communicating with and engaging stakeholders in the CAMPAS program, to: improve awareness of biodiversity values; and promote positive conservation and sustainable biodiversity use actions.
CAMPAS Project Component 1: Strengthen National Vision and Support for Landscape based Protected Area and Forest Management, is the basis for this approach. While stakeholder engagement can be considered as being integral to facets of any biodiversity program, the CAMPAS project places emphasis on the concepts of vision and support, which are directly in-line with stakeholder engagement. In-line with the contract between GDANCP and the NGO Consortium (WWF, WCS, Birdlife and L&L), this stakeholder engagement plan has been drafted in order to not only support the Full Size Proposal design but also to facilitate stakeholder engagement from the planning process, which is a key principle in fostering future engagement.
The lessons learned section of the project implementation form (PIF) identified the following in relation to the need for a vision: “Biodiversity conservation requires integrated and coordinated approaches. An outstanding challenge identified by all sources during a UNDP country program outcome evaluation was the need to move towards a more integrated approach to conservation. It noted that national level vision and coordinated leadership was lacking. It also identified the need for landscape level approaches to address wide ranging species and the maintenance of ecosystem services.”
Activities under Output 1.3 Improved national support and monitoring of biodiversity conservation, protected areas, and forested landscape connectivity in support of national sustainable development goals have a key role in Cambodia to improve the baseline situation of lack of national unity, ongoing conflicting interests and lack of vision with regards the protected area network goals and how to integrate Economic Land Concessions in regional land use decisions whilst maintaining the functionality of the protected area network in the Mondulkiri Conservation Landscape and elsewhere, as well as the suboptimal use of existing conservation partnerships and information on ‘best practice biodiversity conservation’ in the country. Without the project several of the formally established protected areas will be lost due to land and forest conversions.
Output 1.3 will provide an alternative strategy through a combination of communications and information management activities targeting outputs such as enhancing the national biodiversity and protected areas strategic unity, conducting collaborative monitoring of biodiversity targets, as well as support for integrating biodiversity conservation in national economic development. While there is a considerable amount of civil society activity on building awareness, this is not specifically targeting the overall protected area system, nor the national unity and institutional collaboration needed. Additionally, MoE’s Department of Information, Education, and Communication lacks the resources and technical capacity to do this under current baseline conditions. Similarly, there is an abundance of information on biodiversity resources and good protected area management practices in Cambodia, but it is largely unsystematic and held by different organizations or programs. As a result, it is not easily available for policy, planning, and replication of best practice on conservation management, and systems are not in place for information management and exchange.
Lack of recognition of the importance and economic value of biodiversity and ecosystem services is a key driver of environmental degradation, especially in the context of expanding rural populations, widespread rural poverty, rapid economic development fuelled by strong regional demand for natural resources, and limited institutional capacity for effective governance. Therefore, this is an important outcome with significant investment in support of implementing the National Protected Area Action Plan and the regional Sustainable Development Plan, recognizing that improved awareness of the values of biodiversity and ecosystem services, and the role of the protected areas are critical for the accomplishment of biodiversity conservation as well as sustainable development goals.
Output 1.3 will also support outputs 1.1 and 1.2 under Outcome 1 by creating a unified national vision as well as partnership building with various protected area management-related agencies. The approach will be informed by detailed stakeholder analysis, setting key messages, as well as sharply targeted strategy based on social marketing techniques to achieve understanding and willingness towards change with policy and decision makers at national and sub-national levels, journalists, the judicial system and law enforcement agencies. Capacity building will be provided for MoE in the field of communications, education, and awareness to implement the communications campaign and support information dissemination on the national protected area system.
Additionally, stakeholder participation and project implementation will be guided by the UNEP Policy on Gender and Development, as well as use the data and analysis given in the ADB Cambodia Country Gender Analysis. These policies encourage mainstreaming of gender, promotion of economic empowerment for women, direct participation in decision making at all levels, among others. The gender analysis provides information on institutional context, challenges, progress towards goals and outlines options for mainstreaming. Cambodia is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and as such, project activities will make efforts to draw on knowledge and resources in the country to address gender equality concerns. Today, Khmer women have more autonomy and independence than in previous decades. They are permitted to own assets, manage financial transactions, and contribute to household decision making. Both men and women can inherit property, and the gender division of labor can be complementary and flexible, in that men and women can perform a variety of productive and household tasks. In practice, though, there are some barriers for women, including traditional norms and low levels of education and literacy. Cambodian society is still hierarchical, wherein power and status in society are very strong. Women are generally considered to have status lower than men, but this is also dependent on age and other socioeconomic factors, primary wealth. Women are still viewed as household managers, while men are seen as providers. Outside the household, women do not have significant influence over decision-making processes. In agriculture and industry they have 53% of wages, but only 27% of workers in services sectors are women. Microenterprises are a very important source of income for women, particularly in rural areas, where they own over 60% of enterprises, but have lower than average incomes.
The main project actions will involve: a) collection of sex-disaggregated data, and b) conduct of localized, site-specific gender assessments to identify gaps and going forward plans. The Project Team will also consult the ADB Toolkit on Gender Equality Results and Indicators, and make efforts to incorporate those relevant to rural development, agriculture and food security into the M&E system.
Communications and mainstreaming strategy for full stakeholder participation
At present, local awareness and understanding regarding biodiversity and the range of predicted impacts including climate change is low in Cambodia and activities are presently ad-hoc. This communications and stakeholder engagement plan, provides the strategy to help gain understanding and support for the project both nationally and in the demonstration sites. The basis of this plan is the unifying vision and key messages, which will be used.
Mainstreaming of biodiversity into national and local-level planning, the project design relies extensively on stakeholder consultation, input, and practical engagement. In keeping with the participatory approach adopted by this project, local communities and all vulnerable groups will be engaged with to participate in the design of land use and protected areas management plans. Additionally, the project seeks to utilize innovative approaches such as branding and social marketing to enhance stakeholder understanding, engagement, and most importantly behavior toward more positive biodiversity management.
The government ownership for and institutional arrangements are important and strategic considerations in sustainability, however the importance of collaboration and coordination place significant emphasis on the need for effective and regular communications, within the project and with the stakeholders. Project activities and lessons will be captured and disseminated at provincial, national, and sometimes international levels. As per the Institutional Framework and Management Arrangements the project will also communicate and share information with relevant ongoing projects/programs in Cambodia and draw on lessons from relevant past projects/programs in Cambodia.
Increasing understanding and engagement of stakeholders through a unifying vision and innovative and practical approaches to positive behavior change are central to the project. As part of the project preparation process, the aspirations of key stakeholders were identified and considered as a starting point in the vision building and indeed entire stakeholder communications and engagement plan.
The CAMPAS Stakeholder Engagement Framework for Action is guided by the priorities of the Royal Government of Cambodia as expressed by National Biodiversity Steering Committee and Technical Working Group representatives and through key documents such as the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan and discussions on National Biodiversity Targets and Indicators. While the overarching principle of stakeholder engagement is participation to increase relevance, ownership, support and change - to ensure a meaningful and effective program, this framework fore action is guided by five principles, as follows:
Principle 1: Ownership = Sustainability
There are many Civil Society and Non-Government activities in relation to stakeholder communication and engagement for biodiversity, but there has been limited engagement of the government agencies responsible for sharing these biodiversity messages. The Ministry of Environment’s Department of Information, Education and Communication (DIEC) lacks the resources and technical capacity to do this under current conditions, so a priority for the Communication and Engagement Plan is to use this as an opportunity to build capacity and ownership of the DIEC and other responsible government agencies to develop and implement these messages.
Principle 2: An integrated approach to biodiversity management
In order to have a meaningful impact, the project should be delivered through a socio-economic paradigm. To ensure an integrated approach to biodiversity management, the project must consider three key areas– society, environment, and economy with culture and religion as an underlying dimension. For the program to reach full impact it must deal with the underlying causes and threats to the environment and have strong entry issues that people can relate to. No component within the three key areas should work in isolation.
Society: an understanding of stakeholder benefits from and responsibility for biodiversity management and the impact of environmental degradation on human health, wellbeing and culture, and sustainability.
Environment: an awareness of biodiversity and natural resources, the significance of ecosystem services and the fragility of ecosystems that sustain communities, and their biophysical limits.
Economy: a sensitivity to the limits and potential of economic growth, from tourism, fishing and other industry, and their impact on the community and the environment, with a commitment to assess personal, community, business and societal behaviors out of concern for the environment.
Principle 3: Efficiency – Do not reinvent the wheel, but be willing to try new approaches
There are numerous stakeholder engagement institutions, organizations, and activities related to and relevant for biodiversity that can be enhanced through increased collaboration rather than the development of new approaches. It is important to take time to learn who is doing what, who is responsible, what materials are available and what locations they are being used, for more efficient use of resources. While it is important to utilize existing approaches it is equally important to choose the appropriate approaches and adapt these to the specific stakeholder messages and needs. There are also approaches such as social marketing and branding that may be adapted to enhance the efficiency of biodiversity messages.
Principle 4: Biodiversity awareness with action
Implementation of biodiversity awareness is essentially an intervention that seeks to create change, by re-orienting communities toward improved biodiversity management practices. As we are continuing to lose our biodiversity at escalating rates, it would seem that a different and more strategic approach might be needed. Therefore, it is critical that prior to the commencement of initiatives under this program that the perceptions of the target group are understood, to ensure that the project starts from where the group is at, rather than from another perspective.
Principle 5: Motivation
There are many perceptions of environmental problems, their causes and solutions and this results in a multitude of motivations for and against change. A simple and strong vision is needs, which links to a positive message of change from ‘business as usual’. People are typically interested in the benefit to themselves and especially in the short term, so clear benefits need to be shown. These are not all economic but one of the key biodiversity messages needs to link to the economic benefits of biodiversity. In-order to create change; people need to be motivated to take up the new idea or behavior. Motivating people toward something (positive) is often more strategic than motivating them away from something (negative). As we have seen the growth of a middle class in Cambodia there is now a sector, which could stimulate positive changes.