Use of the participatory approach to develop sustainability assessments for natural resource management

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Monitoring progress toward sustainability goals requires a quantitative assessment method including indicators. Indicator sets and goals have typically been developed by experts, which may be scientifically robust but are often difficult to convey to society and may not include all societal values. A participatory assessment approach is emerging as a more holistic method for measuring sustainability. In this approach, local stakeholders play an integral part in the assessment process, assisted by experts. Here we reviewed 13 case studies from around the world that use a participatory approach to achieve sustainable natural resource management. Although similar in approach, most of them diverge in terms of methodology and extent of community engagement. The final set of indicators in each case is reflective of methodology, extent of community engagement, and amount of time and resources involved in the process. While the participatory approach is growing in popularity and increases the potential long-term success of the process (through increasing stakeholder literacy and ownership), the diversity of participatory methodology can complicate policy recommendations.

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© 2013 Taylor & Francis. Publisher’s version of record: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13504509.2013.868376

Publication Title

Journal of Sustainable Development and World Ecology