It is time to increase cooperation in natural resource management: COVID-19 and climate change have caused uncertainty, confusion of information and distrust that can lead to conflict and unsustainable natural resource management. We call on the importance of implementing the principles of ‘collaborative governance’ and building an inclusive platform to enhance information exchange and increase mutual trust.
In 2020 and 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change have not only created a state of uncertainty, but have also exacerbated the characteristics of the social, environmental and economic systems. The pandemic has made us aware that humans and nature are very closely dependent. The profound impact of this worldwide pandemic will require special efforts and serious actions to ensure the long-term sustainability of natural resource governance.
Uncertainty also causes misunderstandings that can lead to conflict between parties. This conflict can pose a threat to life, especially for those who depend directly on natural resources, reduce state income, and ultimately lead to massive and uncontrolled exploitation of natural resources. Increased cooperation between governments, citizens and NGOs in natural resource management aims to minimize uncertainty and reduce the occurrence of conflicts. We view the importance of developing an inclusive natural resource governance model, in which stakeholders can engage in constructive and sustainable dialogue, which provides an opportunity to exchange ideas, information and build mutual trust. Based on the findings from the research that has been conducted, we emphasize three important things that must be considered in managing natural resources during the current pandemic, namely:
1. The importance of a collaborative process that supports the involvement of many parties (such as the community, representatives of the business world, NGOs, and local governments) and respects the diversity of these parties, in order to minimize confusion and uncertainty. These parties work closely with policy makers in designing natural resource management plans. In this case, we see the importance for conveners and donors to accommodate and define together clearly the roles, responsibilities and rights of these parties in the whole process of cooperation to avoid natural resource management policies that are top-down.
2. Dialogue between parties should be built on the basis of freedom, openness and awareness – Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC). The dialogue is expected to be able to guarantee transparent access to information and knowledge sharing through mass media, official government media, as well as through innovative media (for example social media) and other digital platforms. Dialogue, such as in the form of sharing ideas about policy alternatives, can reduce the confusion of information and can clarify the purpose of natural resource use. In addition, dialogue will strengthen relations and increase mutual trust between the parties in the long run. The government and policy makers must realize that the use of inclusive dialogue, through digital and non-digital platforms, is a strategic tool that can ensure information disclosure in the policy-making process.
3. Strengthening public participation and the role of communities and local communities is fundamental to the dialogue and collaboration process. Likewise, cooperation between different levels of government such as the central and regional governments is very important to respond to the needs of local communities. Various institutions, NGOs and research institutions can act as conveners and facilitators in the cooperation process. So it must be realized that the dialogue process and collaborative action activities always require dedication, time and strong commitment from all parties involved.