Thirty-five conservation professionals from across the Coral Triangle states (Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timore Leste) and a representative from Madagascar attended the Innovation Lab workshop in Bali.
Participants discussed community based natural resource management success in the Coral Triangle and opportunities to scale up at low cost. Some of the most successful strategies used to engage communities for CBNRM mentioned by participants include story telling through use of movies, cross-site visits, and peer-to-peer mentoring; involving women and youth in CBRM activities to promote awareness and to engage the entire community in planning and CBRM activities; experiential learning for CBRM activities including biophysical assessments; alliances and networks; scientific reports and models that support CBRM; and engaging influential community members.
Using the design thinking process, participants designed a hypothetical community incorporating a range of characteristics including remoteness, fisheries and ecological pressures, policy, tenure, and community conditions. The participants used their experience working with coastal communities to develop empathy maps and understand the motives for CBNRM interest, or lack thereof. Achieving human-centered design and attempting to empathize with the beneficiary helped to reset the strategy for engagement, and helped cultivate a more site-specific approach based on the hypothetical communities designed by each team.
The prototypes developed in the workshop had clear trends. There is a need for more information dissemination for CBNRM and simplification of resources for communities to implement CBNRM without external support. The goal for scaling up community based natural resource management is to encourage local adoption without a heavy hand. One way to achieve this is to encourage information sharing and mentorship across communities.
There is a real challenge in community based coastal resource management in simplifying scientific concepts to be relevant and accessible to coastal communities. While science is a strong motivator, especially to demonstrate the value of local resources relative to elsewhere or to show the importance of MPA networks because of larval distribution and connectivity across a geographic area, it can also be isolating. Many subsistence fishermen have an elementary school education and sophisticated science isn’t going to resonate. It is important to convey the importance of conservation in an accessible and culturally relevant way. When this is done well, communities are more likely to adopt behaviors and practices to better manage their resources.