IIED publishes guide to assessing governance at protected and conserved areas

IIED has published a guide to a stakeholder-led methodology for assessing the quality of governance at protected areas and other conserved areas.

News, 15 October 2019
An interview takes place by people seated at a table

A GAPA facilitator and notetaker conduct a key informant interview in Zambia (Photo: Francesca Booker/IIED)

Global targets on conservation include the goal of delivering more equitable management and governance of protected areas. But the lack of practical tools for assessing and enhancing governance quality and equity means there has been little progress.

IIED has now published comprehensive guidance on a methodology for assessing and taking action to improve the quality of governance at protected areas. The new 160-page manual describes the Governance Assessment for Protected and Conserved Areas (GAPA) methodology, which brings together stakeholders and rightsholders of protected areas to undertake site-level assessments and identify options for improvement and/or better tailoring of governance arrangements to the local context.

The manual, titled 'Governance Assessment for Protected and Conserved Areas (GAPA). Methodology manual for GAPA facilitators', includes background information and definitions of key concepts and provides a step-by-step guide to the GAPA methodology. It also includes a set of templates for users.

The manual has been published to coincide with the IUCN Latin American Parks Congress, which takes in place in Lima, Peru from 14-17 October 2019.

The importance of good governance

The 2018 Conference of Parties on the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP14) approved new voluntary guidance (PDF) on using governance models to apply the notion of equity in relation to the conservation of protected and conserved areas. The guidance cited the GAPA methodology.

GAPA is a relatively low-cost methodology that can be used in all types of protected areas and other conserved areas. It uses a multi-stakeholder approach to ensure that the key rightsholders and stakeholders are fully engaged in the collection of information, interpretation of the results, and the development of recommendations.

IIED researcher Francesca Booker says local engagement is a crucial element of the GAPA method: “A key point is that that the GAPA approach to governance assessment means local people undertake the assessment – their judgement of what's working and what's not, and their ideas for action is what's important."

GAPA uses a framework of 11 good governance principles relevant to protected areas and other conserved areas, based on the IUCN framework of good governance principles and considerations. The 11 principles – nine of which are also equity principles – include full and effective participation, transparency and information sharing, accountability for actions and inactions, fair sharing of benefits, effective mitigation of negative impacts, recognition and respect for rights, fair and effective law enforcement, and effective coordination and collaboration.

Field tested in five countries

IIED and partners, including Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and IUCN PAPACO, first launched the GAPA initiative in 2015. IIED published a working paper reporting on the results of using GAPA in Bangladesh, the Philippines, Kenya and Uganda in 2018. To date, IIED, in partnership with GIZ, IUCN Kenya and the United Nations Development Program, has field-tested the methodology at 11 sites in Bangladesh, the Philippines, Kenya, Uganda and Zambia.

The GAPA methodology has been developed with funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the International Climate Initiative (IKI), supported by a decision of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).

Feedback welcomed

IIED's project leads welcome feedback on the manual and are happy to provide technical advice. If you are interested in using the governance assessment methodology, or if you need advice on applying the methodology, email Francesca Booker ([email protected]).