Protected Area Institutions Learn How to Build Professionals’ Capacity

15 February 2015

For one week from 8 and 13 February 2015, 20 delegates from various training institutions and protected area agencies in Eastern and Southern Africa gathered at Roodevallei Lodge, north of Pretoria, South Africa, to learn how to teach the mutual gains approach to negotiation in the context of natural resources management. The training was offered by BIOPAMA, in partnership with the Sustainability Challenge Foundation and is part of a series of trainings aimed at making negotiation skills training more accessible in this region.

The training was organized in the framework of the BIOPAMA Capacity Building Plan for Eastern and Southern Africa and was a response to the recommendation from a previous BIOPAMA workshop on negotiation skills. The “Mutual Gains Approach” to negotiation was introduced to regional training institutions during a 3 day workshop in August 2014, where the need to incorporate soft skills into the training curricula was highlighted by both the protected area professional and practical fields.

To support the decision to introduce this concept into the regional institutions’ training curricula, this course trained lecturers and trainers on negotiation skills processes and consensus building methodology. Participants from six countries of the region, Kenya, Mozambique, Seychelles, South African, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, internalized the concepts during a structured workshop where they first participated in a 1,5 day module, then learnt the concepts and adapted materials and finally presented their own 1.5 day module, using the adapted materials.

On the final day, delegates developed an action plan on how each institution should utilise the training. Protected area agency staff, mostly involved in community engagements, were generally looking to coach, mentor and train their own staff on the methodology. This would allow them to enhance their skills in their day-to-day negotiations, and thus improve the relations with competing entities in favour of biodiversity conservation.

Training Institutions, including the South African Wildlife College and the College of African Wildlife Management (Mweka), plan to integrate this methodology into their curricula, in particular within the Community-based Natural Resource Management and Communications modules. Both colleges are planning to offer short courses and a potential collaboration with BIOPAMA to start this effort will be further explored. The Universities present at the training were also looking to integrate this training into their existing curricula.

Various delegates identified cases in which they were involved and which might benefit from the application of the mutual gains approach. They were keen to implement the methodology and document the outcomes.  In addition, delegates decided to form a network of regional trainers and practitioners to be able to exchange this kind of information and support each other in the implementation of training in the region.

All delegates graduated as trainers and are therefore available in the region to offer this training.

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