CSPE - The implementation gap in environmental initiatives through community engagement and public pedagogies

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Education

Abstract

It is estimated that 70% of the population of Uganda, Botswana, and Nigeria directly depend on the rich biodiversity of their ecosystems for their livelihoods, health and well-being. These ecosystems are being damaged at alarming rates in conjunction with a deterioration of social, cultural, and economic prosperity. Land degradation currently leads to annual loss of more than 3% of agriculture GDP in the sub-Saharan region, with two-thirds of arable land expected to be lost in Africa by 2025. While research, innovation, and policy addressing these environmental and social realities is carried out nationally and internationally, these occur largely without community involvement or qualitative input, and mostly without successful implementation. The CSPE Network brings together environmental and social scientists in community and public pedagogies to address this apparent implementation gap. As a matter of urgency, the gap between environmental research, innovation, and policy and the communities impacting and being impacted by the environment needs to be mitigated, in order to effectively address the growing issues related to biodiversity degradation. The CSPE Network will seek to develop Innovation and Economic Growth by facilitating innovative cross-disciplinary and cross-sector collaborations to address biodiversity loss in engagement with the social, cultural, and economic factors experienced by communities.
Uganda, Botswana, and Nigeria have a rich, important history of non-formal, community and public pedagogies. Focused on learning and teaching outside formal educational institutions, community and public pedagogies include learning in various public and community spaces and can emerge for example, through instruction, engagement, social arts, and popular culture, amongst many other forms. There is a significant field of research and practice in community engagement, indigenous ways of knowing, and vocational development in the African context, but this social science area rarely works directly with environmental science. Hence, there are parallel objectives (environmental sustainability and the well being of people) but a lack of common language, approach, or expertise. In the context of environment-dependent populations, community and public pedagogies are the strongest, fastest, and most appropriate forms of engagement required to connect new scientific information with existing socio-cultural knowledge and realities.
The environmental policy implementation gap is not new but it is predominantly put down to failures of governance and control. The CSPE Network postulates that addressing biodiversity degradation without genuine community engagement is a project destined to continue to fail. Likewise, to address the health, well-being, and education of populations without rich, science-based environmental knowledge is equally futile. Furthermore, the leadership of all three countries recognise that the environmental challenges they face require inter-sectoral and holistic attention (Uganda Vision 2040; Nigeria Vision 20:2020; Botswana National Development Plan 10). The CSPE Network proposes that without the full engagement of communities, governance will only further widen the gap between communities and the policy makers and researchers trying to protect them. This sustained dynamic and the ever-increasing set of problems is due not to a lack of knowledge, expertise or financial resources. It is due to the disconnect between environmental science and the engagement of communities: a disconnect this network is designed to mitigate.

Planned Impact

Who will benefit, and how?

Land and Agriculturally Dependent Communities in Uganda, Nigeria, and Botswana

These 'users' represent approximately 70% of the population of those countries. They will benefit from:
a. Collaboration in the co-produced research and impact agenda that genuinely addresses their needs, challenges, cultures, and futures. The network will work with groups of land users (agricultural communities, or land dependent urban communities) that are selected from vulnerable areas in the three countries, to co-produce a research and impact agenda that mitigates the gap between these communities and those investing in the sustainability of their land (scientists and policy makers).

b. Knowledge exchange: Direct and appropriate engagement between communities and scientists with the shared endeavor of environmental sustainability will have the benefits of community empowerment, development, and education. This happens because through a well-facilitated process of enquiry and engagement, learning and social cohesion happen; through being heard and respected for diverse knowledges, community empowerment and agency happens; with direct input into environmental policy and practice, ownership happens, innovations succeed and therefore the economic growth, health and well being of the community occurs.

Local and National Policy Makers

The following national ministries will be engaged with directly from the outset of this network:

In Uganda, the Ministry of Water and the Environment, and the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries
In Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Federal Ministry of Environment
In Botswana, the Ministry of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism and the Ministry of Agriculture

a. Relationships will be developed with public servants in these ministries.
b. Reports, resource packages, and knowledge exchange events will provide forums to provide information, resources, and partnerships that are supported by environmental scientists, social scientists, and their own citizens/electorate.

As a result of this access, future policy can be informed by inter-disciplinary information that does not require additional financing for governance or control, as the buy-in and take up of the practices has already begun from collaboration across stakeholders. Policy direction can have international and scientific integrity as well as regional and civic support. This happens because of the approach to research and recommendations underpinning this network.

Non-Governmental and Non-Academic Groups

The network proposes to engage in on-going partnership building with relevant organisations over the course of its existence. From the outset this begins with the formal partnership of one non-academic organisation from each region, with the intention of increasing this number as specific locations and questions are addressed. In this way, non-governmental and non-academic groups including (but not limited to) those listed below will be positively impacted by this network:

Uganda:
Apala Widows and Orphanage Center (AWOC) (Named Network Partner)
World Vision Uganda
Nature Uganda
International Alert Uganda
Volunteer Efforts for Development Concern

Nigeria:
GEF-CSO Network
Women Environmental Programme (WEP)

Botswana:
Ngamiland District CBNRM Forum (including Community-Based Organisations (CBOs); NGOs, Government bodies; Village Development Committees (VDC); traditional leaders (Dikgosi); the private sector involved in CBNRM; and tourism sector representatives)

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title Sustainable Futures in Africa and the Arts in Malawi 
Description A documentary made by Elson Kambalu illustrating an SFA event whereby artists, academics, and development workers came together to explore the possibilities of working across disciplinary and sector differences for common goals of sustainability. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact Currently, the main impact has been awareness across the Network of the development of work, practices, and projects relating the the arts. 
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UZad8ucmvQ&t=21s
 
Description The key findings from this research are still emerging as we analyse and share the results from the interrelated but regionally-specific pilot projects that have been taking place from May 2017 to February 2018. However, even at this relatively early stage in our work, we have learnt, established, and begun to disseminate a huge amount of knowledge. This can be summarized in three key areas: 1. The integral role of community knowledge and collaboration in sustainable development and development-related research and the common lack of methods to engage in that knowledge: Regardless of our geographical or disciplinary base (across disparate regions of Africa and the UK and across sciences, education, arts), we found a common absense of methods to meaningfully and ethically engage with communities from the beginning of the research endeavour. We are addressing this challenge actively and developing models of practice that we change and improve the research we move on to do. 2. The integral role of relationships in international and cross-cultural research: We have learnt that disciplinary expertise is insufficient to engage in interdisciplinary and international research (in fact, disciplinary expertise can often be our biggest obstacle). What has created success and sustainability in our work has been a commitment to empathy, understanding, and friendship across countries, sectors, contexts. The nature of the relationships we have forged in the research (at community level, at colleague level, at instituional level) has been a key determining factor of the integrity, the depth, and the efficacy of the research. 3. Methodological Design: The main finding of our work so far has been the development of methodological tools to carry out development-related research in the field of socio-ecological sustainability. Our tools are focused on ethical, sustainable and successful research that addresses the needs of the affected communities in relation to the contexts of physical science, political science, cultural practice, and education.
Exploitation Route Our methodological innovations, models, and theory will be taken forward by others who are seeking to work in interdisciplinary, inter-sector, and international contexts. Our work will be used as guides, platforms, and examples of mitigating the divides between academic and disciplinary expertise and affected communities.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Creative Economy,Education,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://www.sustainablefuturesinafrica.com
 
Description In this submission we highlight 5 out of over 30 significant Knowledge Exchange and engagement events that network members have led or taken part in as a result of this project. The practice and collective purpose of the network is to develop ethical, impactful, and collaborative models of development-related research across disciplines, sectors, and geographies. In this way, knowledge exchange and community engagement is taking place at almost every step of each pilot project (in Uganda, Botswana, Nigeria and Malawi) that has made up the majority of our work since the beginning of this project. From cross-sector planning meetings, to community forums and consultations; from student training and mentoring, to stakeholder meetings and receptions, from public research events to journalism and social media, these events have been critical and substantive in the research itself. In addition, the relationship building and partnership development has been too numerous to detail here, but a direct result of our approach to research has been the quickly increasing numbers of individuals, organisations, and communities that are involved, and/or interested in being more involved in our work. The network hosts active online platforms, with 216 followers. Facebook posts organically reach up to 522 people per post across 24 countries in both Europe and Africa. The Twitter platform reaches up to 5000 impressions monthly, with each tweet reaching up to 845 people, illustrating the scope of academics, practitioners and community members the network is reaching on a daily basis. Finally, the network members (a group that now includes approximately 40 people) have reported and frequently demonstrate the impact that this project has made on their work. Through an active whatsapp group, a network impact survey (that we repeat bi-annually), attendance and participation at workshops and events, and through the research work itself, the membership of the SFA have all demonstrated the shifts, developments, and transformations of their approach to research, the nature and scope of their research, and the impact of it.
First Year Of Impact 2017
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Creative Economy,Education,Environment
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description SFA Workshops. One example: How Northern Sciences can Help or Hinder Global Challenges. November 15 2017
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact The workshops we have facilitated over the course of this project have led to academics, professionals, and communities re-evaluating their approaches to their work. For example, an environmental scientist and network member based in Uganda stated: "try[ing] out new reaserch methods and writing has greatly changed my perspective on rural Africa's development issues."
 
Description AHRC-MRC Global Public Health Partnership
Amount £8,110 (GBP)
Funding ID MR/R024448/1 
Organisation Research Councils UK (RCUK) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 03/2018 
End 11/2019
 
Description AHRC-MRC Global Public Health Partnership
Amount £7,703 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/R005923/1 
Organisation Research Councils UK (RCUK) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 11/2017 
End 05/2019
 
Description Scottish Funding Council GCRF
Amount £44,719 (GBP)
Funding ID SFC/AN/12/2017 
Organisation Scottish Government 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 10/2017 
End 03/2018
 
Description Scottish Funding Council GCRF
Amount £36,000 (GBP)
Organisation Scottish Government 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 02/2017 
End 06/2017
 
Description Scottish Funding Council GCRF
Amount £35,519 (GBP)
Funding ID SFC/AN/12/2017 
Organisation Scottish Government 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 10/2017 
End 03/2018
 
Description Internal Partnership with the College of Science and Engineering 
Organisation University of Glasgow
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution We (the Network) have provided a platform for researcher development and networking
Collaborator Contribution The College of Science and Engineering have provided financial contributions and the expansion of the network into new areas of expertise and research
Impact Symposium participation; new project development; new partnerships
Start Year 2017
 
Description Arts and Sustainability Event, Malawi 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 30 people attended a day-long event to learn about the SFA Network and explore the potential connections, challenges, and possibilities of working with the arts and cultural practices in interdisciplinary and international sustainability research in Zomba, Malawi. This event has prompted a wide call from the artists and community workers involved for ways to become more directly and formally involved with the work of the SFA Network. It also resulted in a short documentary that demonstrates the work of the Malawi hub, and has informed and supported the awareness of arts practices across the whole Network.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.sustainablefuturesinafrica.com
 
Description Community Forums, Botswana and Uganda 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact These community forums were part of a process of community engagement designed for genuine collaboration on the development of understanding and future practice related to locally specific issues around socio-ecological sustainability.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.sustainablefuturesinafrica.com
 
Description Festival of Social Science 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact tbc
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXTYydcEExE
 
Description Network Symposium and Associated Events, Botswana 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This symposium and associated events included: An open panel attended by local policy makers, university senior management, local industry stakeholders, along with existing and new members of the network; A presentation to the University of Botswana Department of Adult Education; and an extended workshop with existing and new members and partners of the Network.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.sustainablefuturesinafrica.com
 
Description Open Reception and Presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact 40 guests from Nigeria attended an open lunch reception and networking event put on by the SFA Network. This event allowed a wide pool of stakeholders, potential partners, and interested parties to learn about the network and make individual connections with network members relevant to their own area of practice. Guests included representatives from local industry, NGO's, local government, and research institutions.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.sustainablefuturesinafrica.com