To be able to effectively protect nature, the people living and working in the area are strongly needed. However, they are often also the ones who feel threatened by governments and organizations trying to protect it. As a result, they are reluctant to participate in top-down designed projects or may even end up in counterproductive behavior.
What would happen if those people co-design and realize their own projects rather than participating in top-down designed projects?
In our Participatory Action Researches we have seen remarkable results when people get the chance to work together in researching their shared reality, discovering new options and co-design and realize projects they feel ownership of. Although it means we sometimes need to deviate from the initial goals of the nature organization, we are confident these goals will be -albeit indirectly- met, tapping into the power of the masses: people. As Ron van der Veer (Board member of Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance) once said:
“you have not reached our goals. You went way beyond them”.
Nature organizations who dare to deviate from predefined project goals and ticking off boxes, open to approach a complex sustainability problem using Participatory Action Research may expect: