CONVIVA policy briefs now available on convivial conservation, decolonising, political economy and coexistence

By the Conviva team

The CONVIVA – convivial conservation research project, financed by NORFACE/Belmont Forum, have worked together to distill some key findings from across all case-studies into four policy briefs, all now available in our Engagement section:

– an overview of convivial conservation,

– decolonising & convivial conservation and decolonising

– political economy and convivial conservation, and

– convivial conservation and coexistence.

The six country teams – Brazil, Finland, Netherlands, Tanzania, UK and U.S. – worked together to identify some key findings across convivial conservation and the four apex predators analyzed by natural and social scientists across the CONVIVA team: bears (California), jaguars (Brazil), lions (Tanzania) and wolves (Finland).

In the overview detailing convivial conservation as a novel approach to protecting biodiversity (cf. e.g. Büscher & Fletcher, 2019; Massarella et al., 2021), we highlight some key principles proposed by convivial conservation, namely coexistence, diversity, decommodifications, decolonization, direct democracy, redistribution, and global connections. Guided by these principles, we believe conservation can be transformed into a formidable force for progressive transformation, although bringing them together into a coherent programme at scale will not be easy.

The decolonising policy brief, in turn, explains what convivial conservation has to do with decolonising. We highlight the importance of challenging inequitable structures of knowledge and decision-making power rooted in colonisation and coloniality, using the example of Ubuntu and just conservation in Southern Africa. This policy brief builds on the CONVIVA team’s published work (e.g. Krauss 2021), especially a 2022 paper written by Mathew Bukhi Mabele, Judith E. Krauss and Wilhelm Kiwango reflecting on what convivial conservation can learn from Ubuntu, an ethics of care for humans and nonhumans from southern Africa, as well as Wilhelm Kiwango and Mathew Mabele’s new paper on adapting convivial conservation to Tanzania.

The third policy brief highlights how political economy shapes human-wildlife interactions, highlighting the importance of four key shifts:

– from human-wildlife conflict towards a mindset of coexistence,

– from a hyperfocus on the local level towards taking into account global economic and political processes driving local conflicts,

– from a focus on technical aspects towards consistently prioritizing the political, and

– from separation towards an awareness of how different cases of human-wildlife interaction are connected across space and time.

Building on diverse CONVIVA papers (e.g. Fiasco & Massarella, 2022; McInturff et al., 2021; Sandroni et al., 2022) and ongoing work, we highlight what a convivial perspective on coexistence can contribute in our fourth policy brief: current transdisciplinary research on coexistence still suffers from disciplinary blinkers, does not consider diverse voices enough, does not sufficiently prioritise justice and power, and focuses too much on conflict. To help build a convivial perspective on human-predator coexistence, we propose a toolkit of key questions across the environmental, institutional, societal, cultural and ecological dimensions of analysis.