Recruiting policy champions for nature conservation

Experience has shown a gulf between what conservationists and national policy-makers see as important. On one side are global perspectives and concerns over biodiversity and climate change, and on the other are short-term priorities to deliver economic rewards to key constituents, whereas in one form or another the assertion of national sovereignty prevailed. Bridging this cognitive gap requires more than excellent communication tools, and demands investment in building among policy-makers awareness, interest, a desire for change and commitment to the actions that lead to change. Failure to make these investments has often led to the stalling of policy-level support for conservation.

Collective experience has also shown that it is possible for conservation-oriented stakeholders to build the alliances, communicate the messages, create the understanding and deploy the incentives that are needed for sustainable outcomes. But as the stakes rise, with the last natural ecosystems being legally protected but under increasing pressure from resource demands and climate change, it becomes more important to learn and apply lessons from what has and has not worked. This symposium will capture success stories that involve policy-level conservation champions in making a real difference to outcomes.

In Indonesia, decades of work to reform the forest sector was blocked by vested interests in the LULUCF sector. With top-level political allies and international partners determined to support real change, conservationists have seen the chance of reform at last. Still fragile, such changes require participation throughout the government planning system, so that new norms can be established and replicated. The low-carbon development plans of provinces such as Aceh, Jambi and Papua show these changes in progress. Through participation of knowledge-holders with direct experience, it is hoped that many such examples can be explored, and best practices formulated

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