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Improving Participatory Processes through Collective Simulation: Use of a Community of Practice

Mathieu Dionnet, Lisode
Katherine A Daniell, Centre for Policy Innovation, The Australian National University
Amar Imache, Lisode
Yorck von Korff, Lisode
Sami Bouarfa, UMR G-EAU, Cemagref
Patrice Garin, UMR G-EAU, Cemagref
Jean-Yves Jamin, UMR G-EAU, CIRAD
Dominique Rollin, UMR G-EAU, Cemagref
Jean-Emmanuel Rougier, Lisode


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Stakeholder and public participation in natural resources management (NRM) is now widely accepted as necessary to achieve sustainable development outcomes. Yet, effective implementation of participatory processes necessitates well-calibrated methods and tools, as well as carefully honed facilitation skills that are difficult to gain without practice. Practitioners and academics leading these processes are thus encouraged to better reflect on, prepare, and justify their interventions, before starting to work in the field with stakeholders. Our paper shows how a Simulation Community of Practice (SCoP) was set up to support improved participatory practice. The specificity of this community is that its members not only discuss planned participatory interventions, but also simulate these processes by adopting roles of future participants, and by working through the different steps of the workshop that will be later implemented in the field. The evaluation of our approach shows that individual and social learning of participants in the SCoP is developed, leading mainly to improved facilitator skills and to calibration of the participatory methods and tools being tested. A space is also provided for deepening reflection on the purposes of the participatory process and the values that guide these interventions. Our experience could provide a model for others around the world to set up their own SCoP to support participatory NRM practice. Further improvements to our SCoP and new ones could be made by enhancing the feedback mechanisms between the field sites and the community, in order to encourage more cumulative learning and to reinforce the members’ interest, maintaining their involvement in the community over time.

Key words

community of practice; natural resource management; public participation; role play; simulation

Copyright © 2013 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087