Congratulation to current and former ABS students, Lauren Redmore, Aby Sene-Harper, Dhananjaya Katju and Mike Petriello, on the recent publication of their article Terms of empowerment: of conservation or communities?.
Abstract: In this era of socially-oriented biodiversity conservation and resource management, practitioners and scholars all too often invoke unclear and imprecise claims of empowerment to describe changing relations between people and resources. Empowerment is an important indicator of conservation success and social transformation. Yet, when scholars and practitioners fail to adequately conceptualize empowerment, they run the risk of undermining the importance of local involvement and capacity building to achieve biodiversity conservation. Here we explore the many ways empowerment has been conceptualized in conservation. We root our commentary in the history of the use of empowerment in conservation from these diverse perspectives. We then present examples of different meanings, measurements and outcomes ascribed to empowerment. We conclude with suggestions for harnessing empowerment for the benefit of conservationists and communities alike. Because empowerment has the potential to improve resource management outcomes and local livelihoods, we recommend building an adaptive empowerment assessment framework to assist with its deployment where it is most needed. Although empowerment goals in conservation can guide practitioners and scholars to engage with communities in transparent, meaningful and lasting ways, conservation needs a critical approach that builds from an appreciation of the nuances underlying the purpose and power of empowerment for conservation.
The article Terms of empowerment: of conservation or communities? is available in Oryx—The International Journal of Conservation. You can also read their blog post discussing the article here.