Social Learning through Participatory Integrated Catchment Risk Assessment in the Solomon Islands
Suzanne Hoverman, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland
Helen Ross, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland
Terence Chan, Water Studies Centre, Monash University, Victoria
Bronwyn Powell, International WaterCentre Brisbane, Queensland
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In developed countries a social learning approach has been shown to support Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) by fostering stakeholders’ understanding of system complexity, recognition of mutual dependence, appreciation of others’ perspectives, and development of the capacity to work together and to create mutual trust. Much less is known about social learning’s potential in less developed small island states, particularly postconflict island states, where integration must navigate prescriptive management, limited resources, widely differing world views, a history of adversarial relationships, and unsuccessful attempts at government-community collaboration. This paper analyzes the transformative aspects of a social learning experience that occurred during research facilitating participatory integrated catchment management in the Pacific. The study elicited community and expert knowledge to create systems understanding to generate and analyze complex scenarios for integrated catchment risk assessment in the Kongulai catchment, Solomon Islands. Separate sequenced and then combined discussions led to facilitated exploration of others’ subjective assessment of catchment risks and management options. Issues of transparency, trust, accountability, and mutual responsibility were explored in carefully created discursive spaces, assisted by the immediacy of personal contact and the absence of complex bureaucratic structures. Despite historical difficulties, through the use of bridging individuals, participants were generally able to transcend the constraints of their individual knowledge cultures, expand awareness and appreciation of the complexity of human-environment systems for IWRM, and envisage new opportunities for productively working together in integrated catchment management.
catchment risk assessment; collective social action; deliberative democratic theory; developing countries; Integrated Water Resources Management, IWRM; knowledge systems; social learning; Solomon Islands; Pacific Islands