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Presentations and results of the different sessions of the Technical Meeting

Annex 1 : Concept note for the Second International Meeting of the Community of Practice “Enhancing stakeholder participation in National Forest programmes”

 

“Assessment of participatory processes in national forest programmes”

Rome, 24th 25th of November, 2003

Introduction

 The general trend towards more attention for strengthening stakeholder participation in policy processes has gained momentum in the forestry sector. The Intergovernmental Panel on Forests[1] (IPF) has put forward national forest programmes (nfps) as the main vehicle for improving forest policy processes. The IPF principles, which guide the formulation and implementation of nfps, explicitly stress the need for participation of and partnerships with all stakeholders in a shared effort to achieve sustainable forest management. Greater stakeholder ownership in NFP processes, thus taking into account civil society’s needs, is expected to facilitate the successful implementation of forest policies.

 In November 2002 the Forestry Policy and Planning Division of FAO organised the technical meeting “Enhancing Stakeholder participation in national forest programmes” at the Organization’s headquarter in Rome. The purpose of the event was to define strategic ways forward to strengthen participatory processes in national forest programmes and to build partnerships for action. The following strategic directions for action were identified:

 Among the major outcomes of the meeting:

This is in this context that the Community of Practice will meet for a second technical meeting with the theme “Assessment of participatory processes in national forest programmes”

 

The importance of monitoring and assessing participation in nfp

 Participation is now widely accepted as an essential principle for policy framework development. However there is a wide and diversified understanding about what participation means. Furthermore there is only very little knowledge and information available to provide guidance for those organizations which intend to conduct participatory processes. As a result many participatory processes are implemented without serious consideration about the implications in terms of planning and resources allocation to support stakeholder participation. In general, there is a strong tendency to carry out superficial participatory processes just to “tick the box” or to fulfil the criteria requirement regarding participation.

 One reason for this poor understanding, and to some extend low credibility, of participatory processes is the lack of appropriate methodologies for monitoring, assessing and evaluating the quality and the impact of such development processes. In absence of such methods participation remains a very subjective concept and, thus can be used and misused in many different ways. During the first technical meeting the need for appropriate methodology for monitoring and evaluation of participatory processes was specifically identified as a required action to move further. Appropriate knowledge in methods and approaches for the evaluation of participation in nfp processes is required to provide guidance to increase and optimise participation in nfp processes.

 Gradually and in different countries of the world experiences are being gained in using participatory processes in national forest programmes. Research is also contributing in improving our understanding about such mechanisms. This second technical meeting is organized in order to learn from these experiences and to make progress on the development and use of practical monitoring and assessment mechanisms.

 

Challenges ahead

 The first question which comes to mind is: what stage of the process do we want to monitor and evaluate? Do we want to assess the qualitative aspect of participation in the process, i.e. is it a “good” participatory process?”, or do we want to evaluate if a participatory process is effective, i.e. did the process had a significant and positive impact on the implementation of a nfp?

 The evaluation of impact, or of the result of a process, is assumed to be largely dependant of the quality of the process which led to this result. Based on this assumption, the first step to improve participatory processes will be to concentrate on the monitoring and qualitative assessment of the process itself. In other words, we should define the methodology which will enable us to say if a participatory process has been successful in involving all concerned stakeholders in the different stages of negotiations and decision making processes.  Obviously, this approach will require, as a prerequisite, a common understanding on what is understood to be a “good participation”.

 In that context the technical meeting has been designed to address the following question: “how to monitor and assess participatory processes in the development of nfps?”.

 Depending on the results achieved at this forthcoming meeting and on the decision of the Community of Practice, the theme for the meeting in 2004 could be dealing with the aspect of evaluation of the impact of participatory processes on nfps implementation to follow-up on the results of this second technical meeting.

 

Preliminary thoughts on the questions to be asked and to be answered:

 Monitoring and evaluation methodology exists but they are often designed more for the purpose of fulfilling project cycle requirements, thus with an aim of controlling rather than for a learning purpose. Furthermore monitoring and evaluation focuses generally on quantitative measures in terms of number of meetings held, number of participants, etc. But how do we assess the quality of these meetings? How do we assess the sense of stakeholders ownership over the process?

 Further more specific questions can be asked:

 How to assess the social and institutional learning that goes on throughout the participatory process (including change of attitude)?

 How to we assess the role played by stakeholders?

 Have all relevant and more specifically marginalized stakeholders been involved?

 Participatory processes and policy processes are complex issues to monitor and evaluate while in-country capacity available to monitor and evaluate is often limited. Can we develop practical and efficient methods for monitoring and assessment? How do we minimise costs of evaluation?

 How can we assess such processes in a practical way that provides basis for learning and improvement?

 What are the minimal issues we need to take into account in the monitoring and assessment of participatory processes?

 What criteria and indicators can be developed to assess participatory processes? Can such criteria and indicators be developed a priori or should they be developed in a participatory way (participatory monitoring and assessment)?

 Who should be involved in the monitoring and assessment?

 What are specific difficulties in monitoring these processes and how can we deal with those?

 What experiences with participatory evaluation as part of the nfp process do we know about and what are practical ways to increase participation in these processes?

The technical meeting

The meeting is organized  by the Forestry Department of FAO on behalf of the Community of Practice on Monday 24th, and Tuesday 25th, November, 2003, at FAO Headquarters Rome.

 

Purpose and objectives

 The purpose of the technical meeting is to define strategic ways forward to strengthen participatory processes in NFP and to build partnerships for action.

 In order to achieve this, the meeting has the following objectives:

 The proceedings of the technical meeting will be made available through the FAO website.

 

Target audience

 The meeting is targeted at governmental institutions, research and development organizations, UN agencies and other international organizations that have practical experience with enhancing participation in NFP processes. The focus is on organizations that operate at international level; however, the representation of specific national experiences and perspectives of civil society organizations is an important consideration in the design of the meeting and the selection of participants.

 In order to achieve these objectives, participants are recommended to consult with their organizations ahead of time about strategic directions with regard to the subject of the meeting. This is required to enable realistic planning and the continuation or establishment of partnerships for future action.

Please find the proposed agenda of the technical meeting on the next page. More practical and administrative details of the meeting will be sent to confirmed participants in due time.

 

For more information, please contact one of the following Forestry Officers:

 Manuel Paveri             Chief, FONP                           manuel.paveri@fao.org

Dominique Reeb         Senior Forestry Officer           dominique.reeb@fao.org

René Czudek              Forestry Officer                       rene.czudek@fao.org

Michela Mancurti         Clerk, FONP                           michela.mancurti@fao.org

 

Consult the Community of Practice website at: http://www.fao.org/forestry/site/14690/en

 



[1] And its respective successors – Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF) and United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF)

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