The Collaborative Leadership in Participatory Spaces

by Ana Paula Gouveia Valdiones, Brazil, ELP 2014
Written on July 18, 2014.

The Brazilian Amazon has undergone a process of rapid and disorderly occupation during the past four decades, inserting this region in the dynamics of the global commodities markets and at the same time generating severe environmental and social impacts. This process has been particularly intense in the region known as the Arc of Deforestation of the Amazon.

In this scenario, a fundamental component to control and prevent the forest loss is the implementation of policies at the local level. Municipalities have an essential role to play in order to consolidate deforestation reduction and promote sustainable local development in the Amazon.

However, part of the municipalities in the Amazon region currently have precarious environmental management structures and lack the human and financial resources to improve them. There is a lack of effective support from the state and federal governments to environmental management and sustainability agendas at the local level, and the civil society participation is low.

To change this situation, it is essential to strengthen the capacity of municipalities to develop and implement sustainability strategies and improve stakeholder’s active participation in the decision-making processes regarding environmental issues.

A fundamental space to ensure the civil society involvement and participation in the local environmental management is the Environmental Council. In this participatory space, together, different actors can build a sustainable plan and local policies for the municipality.

In this case, the collaborative leadership is an important element to build shared solutions for sustainable use of natural resources. This way, we seek opportunities to include all the sectors and local leaders in the decisions: local environmental departments, local NGOs, rural unions, timber sectors, smallholders, traditional communities and others.

To empower the people to work productively together, it is necessary to break the resistance of some local actors and leaders to the environmental agendas. For this, it is important to give information about the main environmental issues, but also improve our skills in facilitating processes and mediate to reach consensus and promote a constructive process with dialogue between all the stakeholders.