Posted on January 17, 2020 by Lillian Holmes
|Authoring Organizations:||Pacific Institute|
|Consulting Organizations:||Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)|
|Last Updated||Sep 25, 2022|
When a partnership is built from diverse stakeholders, each partner brings different needs and interests to the table. For example, corporations working in a basin may be primarily interested in environmental improvement as a way to protect their brand image and social license to operate, while community and NGO partners may have different priorities, such as improving local livelihoods or protecting biodiversity. Within these differing interests, a partnership must work carefully to prioritize outcomes that benefit all stakeholders. This prioritization is best guided by an agreed-upon code of conduct.
Creating a system to balance different priorities will both engage local stakeholders with the project and ensure that project outcomes consider the needs of people and the environment. Consensus is best achieved through the development of a code of conduct to explicitly guide the project process. This code of conduct will ensure that different stakeholders’ needs are considered, rather than allowing one partner’s goals to dominate the project outcomes. Furthermore, partners’ interests may change over time – routine, ongoing discussion allows shifting needs to be evaluated.
In Uganda’s Kiiha watershed, a partnership between GIZ IWaSP, DWRM, Kinyara Sugar Ltd and the Ugandan NGO EcoTrust represented both business and local interests to address issues of wetland degradation near Kinyara’s plantations. The partners created a steering committee to guide the project work.
Members of the local community had begun using the wetlands for agriculture. The project team hoped to sensitize the local community on wetland management practices as well as restoration of degraded wetland areas. Some initial project actions were undertaken without fully consulting all of the partners, and the partnership had to adapt to these challenges by balancing Kinyara’s need to protect their sugarcane fields and adjacent wetlands with community members’ need for agricultural income. The project addressed both of these concerns by instituting an incentive programme that provided conditional grants to wetland Association members to start environmentally friendly alternative livelihoods in exchange for protecting the wetlands. Although the project outcome was a success, the partners concluded that future project work would benefit from a clear guidance process for all partners. The partnership agreed on increased involvement from the steering committee and clear designation of the committee’s role going forward, and determined that future work will be guided by a code of conduct.
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This lesson learned reflects the beliefs and experiences of the author, not necessarily the Pacific Institute, CEO Water Mandate, or UN Global Compact.