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IBS Speaker Series: Diane Douglas
September 25, 2023 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Title: Inclusive Cultural and Natural Resource Management: A Path to Attain Sustainable Development
Abstract: There is a growing realization that the Environmental, Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) process
commonly fails to safeguard either the natural or human environment on projects in developing countries. Most importantly, ESIAs fail exactly those it is designed to protect—local, indigenous and descendent (LID) communities. The failure to protect cultural heritage and community identity, in particular, has contributed to social and economic inequities, social-psychological stress, forced displacement/forced migration and conflict. Initiatives to engage with LID communities as equal partners on climate change adaptation (CCA), disaster risk reduction (DRR), and long-term development and conservation planning are discussed. To help make communities more resilient to climate change, it is important to consider indigenous and local knowledge (ILK) as well as scientific knowledge, ecology, engineering, architecture—the key is presenting the LID community members with these ideas and allowing them to choose which ones they would like to adopt. If LID communities are fully engaged in the planning, construction, implementation, management and monitoring of a project the project is far more likely to be successful. When scientists tell LID community members that they (the scientist) know what is best, and build a project without embracing LID ideas and develop a management plan without LID input, the community members are far more likely to stop implementing the ‘imposed’ management measures as soon as the scientists leave, and the project will fail. The successes and failures of community engagement implemented on an ESIA completed for a gold mining project in southeastern Senegal and a Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment (SESA) to Reduce Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD plus) undertaken for the Government of Mozambique are examined.
Bio: Dr. Douglas has a B.A. Distinction in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Alberta, Canada, a MSc. in Quaternary Sciences from the Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, Orono, USA and a Ph.D. in Geography (emphasis in climatology), Arizona State University, USA. Diane’s academic studies were interdisciplinary, emphasizing climate change spanning the past 2.5 million years and human-environment interaction spanning the past 20,000 years. Dr. Douglas has consulted in 19 countries, serving as Principal Advisor, Project Manager or Team Leader for engineering and environmental firms as well as a consultant to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), African Development Bank (AfDB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), European Bank on Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), International Finance Corporation (IFC), and World Bank. Dr. Douglas’ international work required extensive stakeholder consultation, analysis of national policies and institutional capacity, identifying the requirements for governance reform and capacity building, making recommendations for agriculture and infrastructure development, and protecting cultural resources of local, national and international significance. Recognizing the consistent failure of governments and developers to adequately consult with local, indigenous and descendant (LID) communities, Douglas founded the Initiative for Sustainable Development in Africa (ISDAF, www.isdafrica.org). ISDAF was established to identify and share methods that can be implemented to improve engagement with LID communities and in turn help reduce forced migration and conflict resulting from people losing access to their traditional lands and resources.