E-DISCUSSION: How can youth work with local communities to achieve development outcomes?

Photo by Ramadian Bachtiar for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

Photo by Ramadian Bachtiar for Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

By Aristia Hady Wanjaya, moderator of the equitable development discussion at the youth session. Share your thoughts by commenting at the end of this blogpost!

Without equal growth and benefit sharing between private sectors, environmental and local communities, it is hard to achieve the balance of sustainability.

As the young generation, we will either be the ones to benefit from current and future development projects, or the ones to suffer the consequences of unsustainable management. However, we until now we have often faced challenges of contributing to management or decision making, as most of the forest management in Southeast Asia is based on top-down approach and dominated by older generations.

In my home in West Kalimantan, I’ve seen first hand the impacts of unsustainable forestry development. This is particularly the case in the palm oil industry. While the expansion of oil palm plantations has brought economic benefits for the private sector, these benefits often fail to trickle down into our local communities, with consequences for both social welfare and environmental protection.

For example, due to limited legal land or income opportunities, many communities are forced to follow the trends to plant oil palms by renting land and capital from private sectors, for a high price. Unfortunately, not many communities succeed in developing their plantations. In the end, the poverty level of many local communities, as well rates of deforestation, in West Kalimantan, have only increased.

Many local communities around Southeast Asia face similar challenges. We need to find a balance between conservation efforts for environmental benefits, and equitable economic development.

Recognition of this need has led us to a great number of initiatives such as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Public-Private Partnerships (PPP).

CSR is where private sector companies recognize their social and environmental obligations, and work to foster environmental protection and social development within their business plans. In Southeast Asia, an increasing number of companies such as Asia Pulp and Paper and PT Bakrie Sumatera Plantations are now applying CSR programs. However, stated commitments to CSR often still fail to actively involve local communities or address local social or environmental needs.

PPP is a joint work between the public and private sectors (the main stakeholders), often with support from governments and organizations.

The Novella Partnership in Ghana is an example of well-implemented PPP. It is a partnership between Unilever, local communities, international and local organizations, and companies, that has transformed the unrecognized local Allanblackia brown seed production into a sustainable supply chain in Africa.

In South Sumatra, a PPP between Xylo Indra Pratama (XIP) and local landowners in has resulted in collaboration in sustainable pencil production.

It is essential for us to contribute to these (and other!) promising solutions, but how could we participate in these initiatives and ensure that it generates equal benefits for all stakeholders and our forest environments?

I believe that we, as young people, can come up with fresh and innovative ideas, will play vital roles for the future of forests.

So, I want to hear from you!

  1. Do you know of any examples of sustainable forest developments in your country or Southeast Asia that have successfully involved local communities?
  2. Whose responsibility is it to make sure that communities benefit from these projects, and that forests are managed sustainably? (government? private companies? etc)
  3. What is our role, as young people in our communities and countries, in encouraging or ensuring these sorts of projects?

Some related articles you might find interesting:

The Social Impact of Oil Palm in Borneo

Public Private Partnership in Forestry

27 Responses to "E-DISCUSSION: How can youth work with local communities to achieve development outcomes?"

  1. Nanda Asridinan Noor Posted on May 4, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Dear All,
    Am Nanda from Indonesia and pleased to join the discussion.
    I was at a giant mining company in the eastern-most province of Indonesia, Papua last month and saw some preliminary thoughts from them to conduct reforestation of “expired” and unproductive mining sites in collaboration with local communities. The implementation is due to start next year and they are struggling with holistic, comprehensive approach to do so, thus might require external consultants. That’s why this summit is important, at least for my learning. Success stories to come.
    As for managing forests sustainably and ensuring communities gain benefit, in my humble opinion, it’s not only about who’s responsible, since all parties must participate. Instead, we must focus on effective scope of contribution by each party (easier to say, stakeholder mapping), at least through Triple Helix, or even better, Hexa Helix:
    1. Researchers/Academicians
    2. Private Sectors/Companies
    3. Public Sectors/Government
    4. Media
    5. Civil organizations/NGOs
    6. Youth
    I believe roles for 1-5 above are quite clear. And to highlight point no. 3, the role for 6 above would be crucial as the bridge between all other stakeholders. To be more specific, the bridge should be in a form of education for sustainable development, in the scope of formal, non-formal and informal learning.
    Thank you! :)

  2. Dipak Bishwokarma Posted on May 3, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    Hi every body,

    I am Dipak Bishwokarma from Nepal, currently a Master of Forestry (Research) student at The Australian National University, Australia

    Well, many south asian countries have been practicing participatory forest management considering the social, economical,and ecological importance of the forest. Community Forestry (CF) is one mode of participatory forest management. Among our South Asian Countries, Nepal is regarded as a pioneer country having full of success stories of CF. I believe many of you have heard about it.

    CF could be one best approach pro-poor livelihood support along with sustainable forest management. Phuong Jung Nguyen has also offered one example of Vietnam. Nepalese CFs have now move forward beyond subsistence level forest management and have been practicing forest based enterprises in Public-Private Partnership (PPP) approach. I have one example to share:

    Daphne spp is one Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) in CFs specially in the high himalayan region ( I believe we are not talking about tree only here). Its bark is used to produce hand made paper. Hand made paper is commercially used to draw art and if I am not wrong as a raw material of currency such as Japan. Nepalese CFs have now been establishing hand made paper production enterprises in PPP approach. In this enterprise model, a group of CFs and local entrepreneurs invest on the enterprise. Share holder and other surrounding CFs sell Dhaphne spp produced in their own CF. Now they sell hand made paper to the big dealer in Kathmandu, the capital city. It has many benefits such as :
    1. CF (and ultimately the local community people) own an enterprise.
    2. CFs became even more sincere on sustainable Dhapne spp and forest management since they need raw material regularly in their enterprise.
    3. The level of benefit increased by many folds since they sell the end material, and no chance to enter middlemen (who generally monopolise the market)
    4. Created employment opportunity in the local level.
    5. More importantly, the income from enterprise could be allocated on pro-poor livelihood support, and community development (such as local road construction, scholarship to poor kids, support to build school buildings, support to health post establishment)

    So, do you think we should now move forward from subsistence level management to commercialisation management through PPP approach?

    I wrap up give an example of Everest Gate Way Hand made Paper Enterprise in Jiri, some 200 Km NE from Kathmandu. There are six CF and some local entrepreneurs as a shareholder who have invested about one million Nepalese rupees (USD 10,000) in 2006. Now they have annual turn over of about one million Nepalese rupees and created employment for about 100 people in the collection season. All the shareholder CFs have been allocating money on poor livelihood support and community development along with on sustainable forest management.

    Cheers……!!! :)

  3. Hendra Toulanyo Posted on May 1, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    Really interested topic. as young people, we can support ecotourism develoment that involve local communities. we will develop that project in Gunung Palung National Park, West Kalimantan.

  4. m. arif w. Posted on April 30, 2014 at 2:26 am

    This is a stiry from WWF.Recognition of the right of access and management of conservation areas With indigenous communities.
    The Kayan Mentarang National Park (TNKM) was inhabited by indigenous Dayak Kenyah, Lundayeh, Sa’aban, Christians, Kayan which are divided into 10 large indigenous area. In customary law, the area is the property of indigenous peoples, which is managed and utilized on an ongoing basis since hereditary. In 1980, the area was designated as a nature reserve.
    In 1996, the status of nature reserve was turned into a national park. This means that indigenous peoples be recognized its existence. Despite that, the National Park status would not necessarily guarantee full rights and the role of indigenous peoples in its management. To ensure that the heads of the customs of the indigenous territory of ten decided to join in a single organization, the Indigenous Consultative Forum (FoMMA) TNKM, so that the voice of indigenous peoples are united and stronger in negotiations with the Government. FoMMA, accompanied by WWF-Indonesia, encourage collaborative management pattern of community-based indigenous agreed as an innovative and precise patterns in the TNKM conservation area. This is because the pattern is born of the aspirations and the rights of indigenous peoples, and according to the conditions of nature and society in TNKM.
    Collaborative management is the management of jointly by Indonesia’s rights and interests in a region that elements of Central and local governments, indigenous communities. Collaborative management pattern of TNKM was passed by three DECREES which was issued on April 4, 2002 by the Minister of forestry.
    Collaborative management pattern for the first time in Indonesia was passed in TNKM finally was strengthened again as a policy of collaboration in the management of national parks at the national level. This milestone recognition of the right of access and the management of joint conservation areas for indigenous peoples.

    I think, all stakeholders (government, private company, & local community) have responsibility towards sustainable forest management. All stakeholders are expected to cooperate with each other. so, the communication can be maintained, and if there is a problem can be resolved peacefully, for example by discussion,
    If local communities want to change something, they should be merged into one organization so that the voice of indigenous/local peoples are united and stronger in negotiations with the government and private company.
    Local communities should be empowered human resources so they are not fooled by other stakehokders

  5. Phuong Jung Nguyen Posted on April 28, 2014 at 10:11 am

    Hi, I am from Vietnam. I’d like to share with you an example of sustainable forest management in my country. It is in Na Muc village, Van Minh commune, Na Ri district, Bac Kan province. The forest here is managed as community forest. The local people together protect their forest with rules and regulations which are admitted by the local community and authority. The local community have their own budget which is funded by a community forestry project ( around $520) and that amount of money is lent by local households for their farming purpose with low interest (around 0.5%/year). The local people use the borrowed money to buy corn seedlings, rice seedling or food for pigs, chicken, etc. The interest is used to pay for the forest patrol team or community business. The budget works very well and it help the local community to protect their forest sustainably.

    This is the reason why I come up with an idea of creating the social bank for forest dependant comunities. The fund for the banks will be mobilized from individuals, companies, organizations for a better benefit distribution in the society.

    • Aris Posted on April 28, 2014 at 12:05 pm

      This is an interesting idea. I see the point how the social bank could help forest-dependant communities to develop their livelihood while protecting the forest. What is the status of the forest? Is it state forest or owned by the locals?

      • Phuong Jung Nguyen Posted on April 29, 2014 at 8:48 am

        It is community forest and they have the Red Book ( a certificate to prove community tenure rights on their forest) and it can help them to protect their forest better.

    • My Hoang Hao Tra Posted on April 29, 2014 at 10:39 pm

      I am from Vietnam too. It is quite interesting idea.Thanks for your sharing :)

  6. Gita Grafitra Posted on April 27, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    I really agree with the article above. I think to make sustainable development, we can start from understand what enviromental group, private companies and local communities need and condition of the forest. And after that group can make a system to manage the forest under goverment control. Actually this management system have been applied in rain forest in Canada but it didn’t work too well because less information and knowledge about rain forest. But, there is another implication after this management work. There is a bond between private companies, local communities and environetmental group to fulfil their vision about sustainable forest management. So they trust each other and have same vision. And as young peoples we can become a bridge between the three and influence other young peoples to help create a sustainable management.

  7. TH Posted on April 27, 2014 at 12:39 am

    What a young generation should understand is that concepts, theories, thoughts, ideas of a good development is developing itself. They mostly are driven by big thought for big interests in a big scale. not necessarily that it is bad but as a young generation we need to be critical to those ideas, don’t get drown easily to what is happening today. we need to pin point the good for the community.
    Second, that I think is more important for the young is to raise and sharpen the ability and willingness to work with and for the community. To create a generation that is not just looking for shiny money physical attributed oriented world but a true human development which I think is more defined by heart and mind development (that could go hand in hand with physical development and so is creating commitment to work for the community). I still am looking for an answer how to create this kind of generation. Today’s young generation should be prepared for this. maybe the discussion in the forum later could give us at least a smooth light on this and share it with us. Highly appreciated!

    • Aris Posted on April 28, 2014 at 10:05 am

      The willingness of youth is another big issue. Personally, I’ve found many young foresters shifted their career paths. Indeed it’s a challenge, if we aren’t committed to protect our forest. Do you have any clue to encourage the youth?

  8. Erlinda C Kartika Posted on April 25, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    Sustainable development means we consider economic and ecological aspect with respect to local people. Without any consideration for all these three aspects, development will lose the balance either for economic purpose or ecological purpose.
    Most of Southeast Asia countries are still focusing their development on economic aspect and barely consider to ecological aspects. As a result, the economy is growing but the environment has to bear the consequences. This is also the reason why nowadays our forest are degrading continuously. Governments also barely involved local people when they make a policy (top down policy). Top down policy has been proved that it cant keep our remaining forest.
    As young generations, we can be a “bridge” between government and local people so that the gap between govt and local communities can be minimized.
    now days many young generations refused to be a government officer. In my opinion it is important that young generations take positions on government office.

    • Aris Posted on April 26, 2014 at 11:09 am

      Unbalanced development will only lead us to failure in the future. As you said, this kind of centralized policy has proved ineffective approach to protect our forest. Thus it needs improvement. But why do you think the young generations refused to be government officers? How do you see the importance of youth joining the government side in this issue?

  9. enjang asri Posted on April 25, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    The sustainability principle are the collaboration among economy, ecology and social (community development). Unfortunately like the author said above, that most of forest management or forest policy in Southeast Asia is based on top down approach which means people are not really involved in the policy formulation process, whereas community/people is someone that know best the condition of its region. We can’t depend all this problem to government or private sectors, the community itself has to have an awareness in forest sustainability, so they will have senses to protect and use their life sources (forest) wisely.
    How to improve community awareness? socialization is one way to socialize the important of forest sustainability to people. Socialization is not always easy, because we have to find the best tools to make community completely understand about it. Sometimes, without realization we used some words or terms that difficult for community to understand. We as youth can be a role to help delivering message from the top (kind of policy) to the community. Youth that have a lot of creative ways is one of the best solution in solving this problem. Creative videos, creative posters with simply words, pictures, photos will make community to be more interested in this matter than conservative socialization using such long presentation and long discussion that is difficult to understand by community.

    • Aris Posted on April 26, 2014 at 11:56 am

      As you said, local awareness is important and we, as youth, could deliver the message in order to build their capacity. However, since a lot of forestry developments are dominated by the private and centralised policy and voice of youth is limited, how do you think of our role in encouraging the private and government side to ensure that sustainable development goals are achieved?

      • enjang asri Posted on April 28, 2014 at 10:43 am

        Can we call the capacity building for community as one of community empowerment? yes, you are true that our voice is really limited to be heard. But, if the empowerment project succeed, the community change to be better, more understand about the sustainability and use their access utilizing forest sources more sustainable, it will attract government or private to give kind of reward and appreciation to them.
        In order to inform government or the private companies about it, the simple way to do as youth is using social media tools. We can posting some stories what we have done to the community, the community learning process of sustainability, and the progress of the empowerment to their official websites or using facebook, twitter, or other socmed to encourage related parties to give more attention in involving community in their program/projects to achieve sustainable goals,

  10. muhammad Posted on April 25, 2014 at 9:23 am

    Think of land ownership as ‘ I own hectares of land and I ought to cultivate crops, and take care of the land properly so my land will not be degraded’. Land right is a requirement to our effort to work together with local communities. Ownership by defining boundaries ‘who owns what’ the crust of our discussion.

    Now getting local communites to get involved in Environmental protection or enterprise is one thing, but to empower them is another story. The latter means locals have the right to from the start to design, to plan, to plant, to sell, and to get benefits. This is an ideal form of ‘empowerment’. But the issue in community based program is often grappled with the question of ‘how can the program be sustained when external assistance left’. In other words, local communities have no clue about where products go and who should buy products. This is a problem.

    Youth can be part of the solution if we do a bit of education to the public about forestry. Research can be done on ecologically significance area ( Peat Swamp Forest). Engagement with local people may lead to self organize projects. Locals need to be heard. Media can be the means. Stories about local people can be developed. Lot can be done if start working with local communities through research, media and advocacy :)

  11. Wempy E Posted on April 24, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    Comdev program is not something new in Southeast Asia”s forest management. There are some some regulations and schemes by either government or market-based which require local involvement in the management. But indeed many cases of its implementation, the local is only seen as an object by private or government to fulfil their obligation. Due to lack of information and access, local communities couldn’t get benefit from the local-involved related programs. What we as youth can do is to become a bridge to fill this gap and help the communities to get more information and access to get involved in the forest management

  12. Pratiwi Sulistiyanti Posted on April 24, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    Indeed i agree with those article above where we need to train those prominent enterprises to be more aware with forest and communities welfare by contribute in environmental payment which already called by CSR. Trough the CSR we could build sustainable land industries also protect environmental service where people could be lived. It may quite strict to determine the minimum limit of budget that could be paid from industries for people and forest. Although it seem difficult we could start from make an industrial and stakeholders mapping which consist of the industrial areas, industrial role in bussiness, what projects that industries could manage its waste. Then we need to make a social mapping that will covering local communities necessity. Meanwhile the budget from CSR could be manage to restore some forest region which already depleted i.e (to restore river involve to restore forest ecosystem).

    • Aris Posted on April 25, 2014 at 6:53 am

      Stakeholders mapping is a great idea. It could determine the role and responsibility of each stakeholder in a project. However, the biggest challenge is to encourage the industries to involve local communities as one of the stakeholders. So, what can young people do to encourage this idea? Do you think there will be enough space for the youth to participate?

      • Pratiwi Sulistiyanti Posted on April 28, 2014 at 5:57 pm

        Surely, we had a lot of space to get involve. Youth could be work together under one platform to measure the stakeholders role by survey. The approach could start to see the welfare from local and indigenous people suround industries area about the industries awareness. By its survey we could make a mapping about people necessity (i.e: degree of people education and health and their earn living, etc.) . Second, we need to investigating the industries through their product (i.e: are the industries produce the product by eco- friendly systems? and How they treat to environment as a place of their industries?) Next step, Through the data, Youth could work together with local government to formulate alternative of policies and rules.
        After the policies has been achieve Youth could work as agency which work as facilitator in each treaty until every rules succeed to apply.

  13. Teis Nuraini Posted on April 24, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    20 November 2007 The ASEAN Leaders adopted the ASEAN Economic Blueprint at the 13th ASEAN Summit in Singapore to serve as a coherent master plan guiding the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community will 2015. AEC would impact to the economic development including forestry development of ASEAN member state. I strongly agree with the article, that economic development must be balanced with sustainable environment and local benefits.

    • Aris Posted on April 25, 2014 at 5:46 am

      It’s an interesting information. It shows that our leaders were concerned about the balance of sustainable development in our region. If it applied appropriately, then it would be a big support for achieving the balance of development. Do you mind to share more about it? How the AEC would impact forestry especially the local people?

  14. Annisa Mia Posted on April 24, 2014 at 8:43 am

    i am agree with the statement. from what i’ve experienced, to find balance in conservation efforts for environmental benefits and equitable economic development is very important yet not easy. i think we have to include people who live near the forest and make sure they understand the importance. industries have to be wiser and open minded to reach those people so that everyone has responsibility to maintain the balance.

    • Aris Posted on April 25, 2014 at 5:37 am

      Hi Annisa..to achieve the balance is indeed a big challenge for a forestry development. I agree that we should put the local people at the centre of management. But do you think that industries should take the main responsibility to involve local people? what is your opinion about the role of youth in challenging this issue?

  15. J Posted on April 23, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    A very good article and interesting thoughts. Local communities indeed have often struggles to get the benefits from big groups/industries.

    • Aris Posted on April 25, 2014 at 5:25 am

      Hi J thanks for the comment. Do you have any experience to share or perhaps examples where communities haven’t benefited?

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