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From Scorecard to Social Learning: A Reflective Coassessment Approach for Promoting Multiagency Cooperation in Natural Resource Management

Dirk J Roux, Monash South Africa; International Water Centre
Kevin Murray, Insight Modelling Services
Jeanne L Nel, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
Liesl Hill, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research
Hermien Roux, North West Department of Agriculture, Conservation, Environment and Rural Development
Amanda Driver, South African National Biodiversity Institute

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Abstract

The responsibility for managing and conserving freshwater ecosystems is typically shared by multiple organizations with sometimes conflicting policy mandates. However, scorecard-based approaches for measuring management effectiveness in natural resource management are usually confined to single organizations. This paper describes a social learning approach which acknowledges cooperation as an essential precondition for effective management and that encourages reflective coassessment of cooperative relationships. The approach was pilot tested with eight participating organizations in one water management area in South Africa. It specifically aimed to allow for a multiagency reflective assessment of issues determining cooperative behavior, allow context-specific adaptations, and be embedded in adaptive management. It involved development of a spreadsheet-based scorecard-type tool that can be used to facilitate a multiagency workshop. This workshop serves to bring parties face-to-face and helps them codiscover their interdependence, shortcomings, and strengths. The spreadsheet structures reflection on their respective roles and effectiveness while the reflective coassessment motivates participants to address shortcomings. Overall, insights that emerged included: cooperation should be an explicit component of each organization’s operational strategy; facilitation of appropriate cooperative behavior could be very effectively achieved by external “bridging organizations”; the reflective assessment process must be followed by purposefully adaptive interventions; the ability of the scorecard to be contextually adaptive was important; and institutional readiness requires investigation as the approach does sit somewhat uncomfortably with much current practice.

Key words

adaptive management; bridging agents; cross-sector cooperation; freshwater conservation; integrated water resources management; management effectiveness evaluation; reflective coassessment; social learning
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087