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Social equity goals in conservation interventions: a system thinking approach to track progress at global level

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - TRECKQUITY (Social equity goals in conservation interventions: a system thinking approach to track progress at global level)

Reporting period: 2015-10-19 to 2017-10-18

Aichi Target 11 (AT11), adopted by 193 Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 2010, states that protected areas (PAs) must be equitably managed by 2020. The rationale behind equity concerns in AT11 is that benefits arising from PAs are experienced at multiple scales, including global, whereas the burdens associated with PAs fall predominantly on local stakeholders. Besides ethical issues about social equity, a lack of understanding and efforts to address social inequity in PAs at local scales can result in failed conservation or can make conservation more costly for governments and donors.

Equity refers to minimum standards that all members of society are entitled to. Social equity in PAs refers to “PAs established and managed in close collaboration with, and through equitable processes that recognize and respect the rights of indigenous and local communities, and vulnerable populations; and such costs and benefits of the areas are fairly shared” (CBD, 2010). However, significant challenges remain in terms of actual operationalization of equitable management in PAs and its progress report on AT11. These challenges include, among others, the lack of a standardized approach to assess and monitor social equity and the difficulty of reducing social equity to a series of metrics and global indexes.

The aim of this project was to develop an innovative and interdisciplinary methodological approach to track global achievement of equity in PAs from case studies; specifically:
To build a common understanding to facilitate the integration of current multidisciplinary approaches addressing equity.
To gather information and evidence available related to equity in PAs from multiple cases at local scale.
To assess equity in PAs and track progress on reaching the goal of equitably managed PAs in the AT11.
The project addresses these objectives by first, proposing a conceptual framework to assess social equity in PAs in its three dimensions: recognition, procedure and distribution. To assess these three dimensions, we elaborated 10 indicators based on an expert-leaded transdisciplinary workshop and discussions with several stakeholders involved in the management of PAs. The indicators target information on social equity regarding cultural identity, statutory and customary rights, knowledge diversity; free, prior and informed consent mechanisms, full participation and transparency in decision-making, access to justice, accountability over decisions, distribution of conservation burdens, and sharing of conservation benefits (for more details you can read Zafra-Calvo et al. 2017 10.1016/j.biocon.2017.05.014).

We did not find in the literature or global databases an enough number of multidimensional assessments of social equity in PAs to develop a standardized methodology to report on AT11 from the information they provided. Then, PA managers, staff and community representatives involved in the management of PAs, were surveyed to gather information against the 10 indicators in 225 PAs worldwide (access the online questionnaire in English or Spanish They informed about the contribution of a given indicator to achieve equitably managed PAs according to the CBD standard (see an example of specific PA assessment in
The proposed indicator system and first global assessment about social equity in PAs are a first step in advancing an approach to facilitate our understanding of how the different dimensions of social equity are denied or recognized in PAs globally and then, taking decisions to achieve equitably managed PAs by 2020 and beyond. However, it is necessary to combine a systematic survey like ours, with a more open ended long-term multistakeholder participatory surveying approach. It would provide a more detailed description of the status of each PA in terms of social equity to take targeted management actions.
Way towards equitably managed protected areas