Can adaptive and reflective learning support more resilient multi-stakeholder forums?

Workshop in Kenya. Photo credit: Biovision/Tanja Carrillo

Following a broader interest in land use, land-use change and the forestry sector globally, Kenya has seen an increase in multi-stakeholder forums (MSFs) promoting an ecological transformation of agriculture.

The objective of these forums is to create bridges between political and economic decision-makers, scientists, entrepreneurs and farmers, by offering them spaces for exchanging experiences and information. They also promote agroecology as a promising path towards equitable and nature-friendly systems, increasing resilience by strengthening ecological and social outcomes.

However, as Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF) research on FSM has shown, simply bringing people to the table is not enough to ensure the success of these processes. .

Coordination and collaboration require strategic thinking and thinking about how best to build consensus between actors who often have divergent interests, hold different capacities and unequal access to resources.

Recognizing these challenges, the Biovision Foundation and its partner organizations support various multi-stakeholder platforms at national and county level in Kenya, including the Multi-Stakeholder Platform for Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA MSP) and the Cross-Sector Forum on Agrobiodiversity and Agriculture. agroecology (ISFAA).

As part of this work, PELUM Kenya, with the support of the Biovision Foundation, organized a workshop in Nairobi to bring together a group of MSF working on agroecology to share experiences, challenges, lessons learned and progress. . It was also designed to discuss how to improve synergies and address the lack of interaction between different platforms, forums and initiatives.

The MSFs have the common goal of strengthening coordination and collaboration between stakeholders and promoting sustainable agricultural practices for a resilient food system.

“Everyone has a vision for agroecology, but we need to align them and work together to create the best possible benefits for people and the planet,” said Rosinha Mbenya of PELUM Kenya.

How are we?

The workshop implemented the reflective and adaptive learning method developed by CIFOR-ICRAF scientists in ‘How are we? », a monitoring tool to support equity in FGM.

The adaptive and reflective learning tool was designed with MSF participants and organizers in Indonesia and Peru to reflect on the process, progress and priorities of their forums. Available in English, French, Indonesian and Spanish, it goes beyond simply scoring a set of indicators.

It invites guided group reflection for MSF participants and organizers to recognize and reflect on their challenges, while supporting social learning to devise strategies to achieve goals equitably and effectively. In doing so, groups collectively learn from their past work, examine avenues for progress and barriers to further progress, and collectively plan how to achieve their future goals.

The tool is designed around a series of statements – on participation, gender, communication, inclusivity, among other themes – which are rated by participants and discussed following a series of probing questions. reflection.

Since the first version, it has been adapted to support participatory processes in different contexts, for example, in collaboration with the Peruvian Protected Areas Service and with the National Organization of Indigenous Women of Peru.

For this workshop, the Biovision Foundation, CIFOR-ICRAF and PELUM Kenya collaborated to adapt the tool’s most relevant statements and reflection questions to the needs and priorities of the participating MSFs. Statements were made in the form of questions to support the discussion, for example:

  1. What has been the impact of our agroecological initiatives?
  2. What resources and capacities do we need to support our work?
  3. Are we effectively communicating our work to farmers and community organizations?
  4. To what extent have MSFs engaged with other institutions with different objectives?
  5. To what extent do we include women, young people and communities in our MSFs?

The participants were divided into four groups of five to seven participants who discussed all the questions.

The groups represented a similar mix of the various government and civil society organizations participating in the workshop, and included both men and women. They presented the main points of their discussion to the other groups, followed by plenary discussions in which participants compared their experiences and learned from each other.

Workshop in Kenya. Photo credit: Biovision/Tanja Carrillo

Collaborating for agroecology in Kenya

Although participants discussed different aspects of sustainable agriculture, three main issues that would support the role of MSFs in agroforestry stood out.

First, securing adequate funding is a key priority for all forums in order to carry out planned activities and bring together different stakeholders. Participants agreed that funding should not only come from donors, but also include government financial support to ensure the long-term sustainability of their platforms. Furthermore, they also agreed that there is a need to increase investment in research that generates and combines scientific evidence around the benefits of agroecology with traditional and indigenous knowledge.

Second, participants agreed that communication efforts should be targeted to their audience – such as farmers or policy makers – for more effective advocacy. They agreed that to collaborate in achieving agroecological transformation, different initiatives need to harmonize their messages and create a common narrative.

Third, participants recognized that young people, women and people with disabilities need to be actively included in their FGMs.

“What stood out to me were the partners’ commitments to deliberately involve more young people and women in agroecology and in MSF’s discussions and activities,” said Hannah Kigamba of the YALTA youth initiative, reflecting at the workshop. “This will facilitate inclusivity and integrate youth and women’s voices into agroecological plans at all levels. This is a call to women and young people – we must see agroecology as an opportunity not only for sustainable transformation of food systems, but also for economic empowerment.

By following the method designed for “How are we? » The group discussions conducted during the workshop were synthesized into a collective work plan with concrete suggestions such as the introduction of a quarterly newsletter on agroecology, where all organizations can contribute and share their work. The plan also calls for the deliberate inclusion in the forums of a broader group of stakeholders – such as the private sector and pastoralists – as well as more active involvement of women and youth.

Regarding coordination, participants agreed that such exchanges should take place regularly to enhance synergies between different agroecological initiatives and platforms.

Finally, participants agreed on the need to develop a national strategy that provides a common framework for agroecology in Kenya.

The workshop took place from March 1 to 4, 2022.

This research is part of CIFOR’s global comparative study on REDD+. Funding partners who have supported this research include the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad, grant no. QZA-21/0124), the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU, Grant No. 20_III_108), and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry (CRPFTA) with financial support from CGIAR donors. The workshop was co-organized by the Biovision Foundation for Ecological Development and PELUM Kenya, with financial support from the IKEA Foundation and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. Biovision’s Policy and Advocacy team combines thematic expertise on agroecology with experience in advocacy and policy dialogue to engage with decision makers at national and international level around the themes of sustainable agriculture and transformation. food systems. For more information, visit the Agroecology Information Pool.

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Harry L. Blanchard