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Projects from the Global Initiative

THE CONTINUUN OF SOCIAL STRATEGIES FOR CONSERVATION

Towards a clarification

One way of clarifying the differences between and relationships among social strategies is to focus on the nature of the learning processes involved in different strategies and the objectives that are served by them. When this is done, it is possible to see information dissemination, communications, education, and capacity building as lying along a continuum, each with related but discrete objectives and with overlapping and, indeed, complementary methodologies. This means that is it not only very difficult to separate them but also that attempting to achieve one set of objectives without the other in an integrated way, over the long term, is unlikely to lead to successful conservation outcomes and impacts. Figure 1 depicts this way of conceptualizing the relationship between these social strategies for conservation.

Three points should be noted about this suggested clarification of the relationships between these strategies.

1. Each column of figure 1 subsumes the one(s) on its left and thus is generally capable of contributing more to conservation than those it subsumes. This does not mean that any is inferior to the other, just that they have different purposes and can be used to complement each other.

Thus, information provision is defined as the one-way dissemination of conservation messages with the chief purpose of raising public awareness of conservation matters, whereas communication involves dissemination of information as part of a planned two-way exchange of ideas that seek to clarify and enhance the understanding of issues and generate concern.

Similarly, education subsumes the dissemination of information and communication as part of a process of sharing and learning. However, activities conducted in the name of education only become educational when their design and use are embedded within appropriate pedagogical processes that involve people-at all stages of life-in a process of increased understanding, clarification of commitments and priorities, and skill development.

As such, education is an integral component of capacity-building. Indeed, it is one of the essential tools for empowering individuals and communities for greater control of the direction and conservation focus of their work and for building appropriate organisational structures and skills for facilitating conservation work.

This does not mean that capacity-building only involves education. As the examples in figure 1 show, it is clearly much more than this. However, all education has a capacity-building function. The role of education within an organization such as WWF is to build social capacity for effective and sustained participation in conservation initiatives through programmes in formal, non-formal, and informal education settings.

Sometimes, the link between formal education and capacity-building for conservation is difficult to see. Much of formal education is geared to developing the outlook, motivations, and skills required for a vibrant and caring civil society, viz: the concerned and involved citizen, the good parent, the effective worker, the cultured individual, the team player, and so on.

Such educational work in schools and colleges has the prime function of increasing individual capacity to work with others to shape and achieve social goals; and such work is continuous, extended, and complemented beyond formal education through initiatives in non-formal and informal education.

That such building of social capacity needs to embrace conservation and related issues of sustainability is at last becoming more widely accepted; its incidence is growing, although most certainly too slowly. However, the fact that it is growing is due in no small measure to the influence of NGOs such as WWF. Educational initiatives for conservation seek to increase an individual's capacity to work with others towards conservation goals, thus building social capacity for effective and sustained participation in conservation in both the public sphere and in individual and household consumption.

2. The term "pedagogical processes" requires elaboration owing to its importance in distinguishing education from related social strategies for conservation.

Pedagogy involves more than the traditional concept of instructional practices; any coherent pedagogical approach involves the selection and use of particular teaching strategies, not in any haphazard way, but as guided by a coherent vision of the desired outcome and how education can contribute to it. Thus, pedagogical processes involve a combination of cognitive (knowledge), affective (attitudes and values), and conative (practical action) strategies for learning that include processes such as:
  • Thinking about and processing concepts and principles (e.g. of biodiversity and conservation);
  • Clarifying personal environmental attitudes and values towards issues of environment and conservation;
  • Appreciating political, cross-cultural, gender, and other socio-economic contexts and their implications for conservation;
  • Coming to conclusions, making decisions, and developing plans;
  • Applying lessons learnt to one's own life and in one's own environmental context; and/or
  • Reflecting on the changes that have taken place.

Without a conscious and explicit recognition of pedagogical processes, and their integration into the design of an activity, education is not taking place, and the desired outcomes of increased understanding of environmental issues and enhanced commitment and skills to participate in conservation will be difficult to achieve.

3. The four strategies are related; indeed, they exist along a continuum and borrow tools from each other to address particular short- and/or long-term conservation objectives, and particular audiences and their needs. Thus, these social strategies complement each other and generally are most effective when used in combination.

However, this does not mean that they are synonymous or that it is not important for WWF to have a network-wide understanding of the scope, objectives, and boundaries of each one and to develop appropriate organisational structures to enable the potential contributions of each, and their complementary use in conservation, to be maximized.

Figure 1. A Continuun of Social Strategies for Conservation
 
Strategy Information Communication Education Capacity-building
Objective To increase awareness and understanding of conservation issues and the work of WWF To establish a dialogue between sectors of the community and WWF in order to:

  • Increase understanding of the conservation issues that are of most concern, and
  • Share experiences and priorities and plan collaborative projects to promote conservation
To promote:

  • Knowledge and understanding of conservation principles;
  • An attitude of concern for the environmental and
  • The motivation and capacity to work cooperatively with others in achieving conservation goals
To increase the capacity of civil society to support and work for conservation through training, policy development, and institutional strengthening within and outside WWF
Processes Dissemination of information in a variety of media Facilitation of dialogue or two-way communication both within WWF and between WWF and outside groups Facilitation of learning experiences through the use of information, communication and pedagogical processes that develop individual and group motivation and skills for living sustainably
  • Development and enhancement of policy and institutional structures and skills
  • Training of WWF staff and key stakeholders in society
Audience Settings Generally informal settings Generally informal and non-formal settings Generally formal and non-formal settings Generally non-formal settings
Tools
  • Public relations and advertising
  • Information campaigns via a variety of in-person, paper, audio-visual, and electronic media
  • Information campaigns with feedback processes to establish dialogue between WWF and groups
  • Environmental interpretation
  • Participatory social marketing
  • Formal education from pre-school to university
  • Vocational and professional education courses
  • Non-formal education through youth, religious, farmer, and business associations
  • Participatory social marketing
  • Professional development and training
  • Community development via participatory learning and action (PLA/PRA) approaches
  • Policy review and development
  • Strategic planning
  • Network development
Examples
  • Book publishing
  • Public service announcements
  • TV programmes
  • Posters
  • Stickers
  • Public displays or exhibitions
  • Newsletters to members
  • Town meetings
  • Telephone/mail call-back associated with information campaign
  • Interactive exhibitions
  • Integrated curriculum and professional development project
  • Local school-community water action project
  • TV programmes integrated with related community workshops
  • Participatory learning and action (PLA) projects
  • Public involvement in Local Agenda 21 planning
  • Workplace training for ISO 14001 accreditation

Note:
1 / Extract from "An Evaluation of the Contributions of Educational Programmes to Conservation within the WWF Network - Final Report", pages 24 -27, May 1999.

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme