As the original VCA Framework gained traction across programs, we heard a call from conservation practitioners for simple, common, adaptable, and feasible guidance to monitor outcomes generated by implementing the VCA Framework. Given the framework’s focus on socially oriented strategies informed by the people/nature connection, and backed by mounting evidence, this guidance places emphasis on tracking indicators of human well-being in addition to the environment. The guidance is intended to explicitly link to TNC’s Shared Conservation Agenda (SCA) and Conservation by Design 2.0, and help programs adopting the VCA Framework provide information to monitor their progress on human well-being and environmental outcomes to inform TNC’s broader efforts.
Additionally, a self-paced online training curriculum on VCA Framework Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) is available on conservationtraining.org, which covers MEL plan development; ethics, human rights, and equity in MEL; focus group and key informant interview design; social survey design; data collection tools and implementation; data management systems and processes; and data visualization and communication. For access to the training curriculum, contact email@example.com.
Secure Rights Over Lands, Waters, and Resources
Since the rights held (or not held) over lands, waters, and resources are critical to understanding the underlying context of a place, it is important to undertake an exercise to better understand the tenure form of a resource, the suite of actors with a right or stake in a resource, the type of recognition they hold, and potentially overlapping rights or claims. This template can be used during situation analysis to document this information by consulting local, regional, and national policy instruments, the department of natural resources (or similar government institutions), and the community or its representative institution. This exercise should be followed by “Tool 3: Tenure Security Assessment” to determine security of the rights, and which activities might be appropriate to address sources of insecurity.
Tenure security is a complex topic with multiple intersecting and influencing considerations. In “Tool 2: Tenure Rightsholder and Stakeholder Mapping,” we determined the tenure form of a resource, the suite of actors with a right or stake in a resource, the type of recognition they hold, and potentially overlapping rights or claims. Using this information, we now identify potential sources of tenure insecurity faced by Indigenous Peoples and local communities, and what actions conservation organizations might take in partnership with Indigenous Peoples and local communities to support strengthened tenure security. This information should be discussed with the community, or its representative institutions, during situation analysis using key informant interviews and focus group discussions.
*Please note, a full risk assessment is necessary to understand the potential unintended consequences (e.g., increased conflict or retaliation) of mitigating actions, since rights can be contentious. Ultimately, the appropriateness (and likelihood for success or failure) of any strategy to strengthen tenure security will depend on the context, source and drivers of insecurity, and enabling conditions
Strong Leadership, Governance, and Management Capacity
Strong community leaders and institutions are foundational to community-led conservation. The key criteria in this tool can be used to assess the effectiveness of both, which in turn influences the trust and confidence individuals are likely to place in them. This information should be discussed with the community, or its representative institutions, during situation analysis using key informant interviews and focus group discussions. You may use the checklist to log your response to each of the questions to determine potential growth areas and opportunities to support appropriate capacity-building activities in partnership with Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
Collective action is a prerequisite for effective governance and is influenced by certain resource and community characteristics. This information should be discussed with the community, or its representative institutions, during situation analysis using key informant interviews and focus group discussions. You may use the checklist to log your response to each of the questions to determine potential growth areas and opportunities to support appropriate capacity-building activities in partnership with Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
Common pool resource governance is widely found within Indigenous and local community territories. When considering how we might support communities in sustainable natural resource management, it is important to assess eight conditions that influence the effectiveness of these property regimes.69-70 This information should be discussed with the community, or its representative institutions, during situation analysis using key informant interviews and focus group discussions. You may use the checklist to log your response to each of the questions to determine potential growth areas and opportunities to support appropriate capacity-building activities in partnership with Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
This guide is designed to offer conservation practitioners a set of basic concepts and tools to better understand, assess, and support effective governance of natural resources in landscapes and seascapes. The guide is designed to aid in understanding of key criteria for effective governance of natural resources and serve as a diagnostic.
Effective Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue and Decision Making
Multi-stakeholder dialogue and decision making focuses on inter-group and inter-rightsholder/stakeholder capacity and collaboration, which comes with its own needs and challenges. An important role of conservation organizations is often that of “convener” and “facilitator.” Whether conservation organizations are involved in supporting Indigenous and local community leadership in convening a new MSD, facilitating an MSD, or supporting meaningful Indigenous and local community participation in an existing MSD, the checklist of key criteria of effective MSDs can be used to understand the MSD structure and whether/where adjustments might be warranted.
This guide by Reos Partners, entitled “The Reos Change Lab: Addressing Complex Challenges with Social Innovation,”97 presents an approach to creating and navigating change and transformation in complex social systems. While this guide is not a “how-to,” it is an in-depth exploration of the Change Lab approach, as well as an overview of some of the associated principles, tools, and resources. The guide explains the process of initiating, convening, and facilitating a social change process that is systemic, creative, and participative—a “who,” “what,” and “why” of social innovation. As conveners and facilitators of MSD, conservation practitioners trained in the Change Lab approach may find this helpful to supporting Indigenous and local community leadership and meaningful participation in MSD, and building understanding and capacity amongst diverse stakeholders.
Sustainable Livelihood Opportunities
This guide is designed to help conservation practitioners advance sustainable livelihoods in partnership with Indigenous Peoples and local communities. The guide provides the foundational knowledge necessary to understand sustainable livelihoods and outlines actionable steps and tools conservation practitioners can use when co-developing sustainable community enterprises.
The activities in this chapter of the Namati Community Land Protection Facilitators Guide100—“Preparing Communities to Prosper” beginning on page 183—are designed to foster long-term community growth and prosperity, according to each community’s self-defined plans and intentions. They support community members to pursue a range of livelihoods, regenerate local ecosystems, prepare for potential negotiations with investors, and take specific steps to actualize their shared community vision.
Foundational Elements 1
Equitable Benefits, Impacts, and Inclusion
Power can be defined as the degree of control over material, human, intellectual, and financial resources exercised by different sections of society. The extent of power of an individual or group is correlated to how many different kinds of resources they can access and control. This tool explains the multi-dimensional aspects of power, and provides guidance and templates for conducting power analysis. Power analysis should be conducted during situation analysis that is a part of the planning process for conservation in partnership with Indigenous Peoples and local communities. As such, conservation practitioners may find it helpful to consolidate various aspects of situation analysis that might otherwise be conducted separately into one overarching analysis, which can help save limited time, resources, and social capital. This includes general situation and stakeholder analysis, gender analysis, tenure rightsholder and stakeholder mapping, and equity considerations in implementation and monitoring, evaluation, and learning.
The audience for this guide is conservation practitioners, managers, and senior leaders. It applies to all work that may impact Indigenous Peoples and local communities, is relevant for all scales of work and strategic approaches, and is useful regardless of project role. The guide is informed by nine Principles and Safeguards that are drawn from TNC’s commitments to international human rights law and standards. The main content of the guide is comprised of six modules and includes checklists, templates, tools, and case studies.
This guidance is also available in Chinese, French, Indonesian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swahili. More information can be obtained by visiting the Human Rights Guide website.
The purpose of the guidance is to help conservation practitioners integrate gender equity considerations in a conservation project or strategy. The guidance follows the Conservation by Design (CbD) 2.0 cycle and includes important information, tools, and resources for conducting an evidence-based gender analysis, developing a gender action plan, building a gender-responsive results-based framework (CbD Phase 1); integrating gender-responsive approaches and activities in implementation (CbD Phase 2); and monitoring, evaluating, and reporting on gender related outcomes (CbD Phase 3).
This guidance is also available in Chinese, French, Indonesian, Mongolian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swahili.
Additionally, a Gender Integration Workshop for Indigenous and Community-Based Conservation based on the guide is available on conservationtraining.org, which covers gender analysis, gender action planning, gender equity in MEL, and gender based violence and safety. For access to the training curriculum, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Foundational Elements 2
Strong Connection to Knowledge and Place
TNC’s Development by Design (DbD) framework considers community values—including biodiversity, cultural, and socio-economic values—in the impact assessment process for development proposals. DbD provides a holistic view of how future development could affect these values and offers solutions for informed decision making. DbD uses a Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping tool to assess and demonstrate likely impacts on these community-defined values. DbD supports the concept of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent and gives groups the opportunity to participate fully in the development decision making process. This manual was written based on experiences mapping cultural values in Australia, but can be applied elsewhere.
The process to strengthen connection to knowledge and place must be underpinned by respectful engagement, local stories, and evidence. When partnering with Indigenous Peoples, we must respect information about people, their knowledge, and their territories. Those working in this space seeking to publish information or data should follow appropriate protocols in establishing Free, Prior, and Informed Consent before publishing about Indigenous Peoples or their places. Out of respect for Indigenous and local community intellectual property rights and data sovereignty, TNC has developed a data and information sharing agreement template that can be tailored to context.
This template is also available in Spanish, Portuguese, and Indonesian.
The Supporting Emerging Aboriginal Stewards (SEAS) Toolkit was developed by Nature United179 in collaboration with community partners to help support and strengthen land and water-based education programs for Indigenous youth. It was created to provide ideas, suggestions, and guidance to anyone working on developing and delivering these kinds of programs. This toolkit is for anyone who is interested in starting or strengthening a land and water-based education program for Indigenous youth. The toolkit is organized into six chapters, each of which answers important questions about how to design, implement, and strengthen such a program over time.
More information can be obtained by visiting the SEAS website.
Foundational Elements 3
Durable Outcomes for People and Nature
The Conservation Finance Alliance’s (CFA’s) Conservation Finance Guide offers detailed definitions of conservation finance mechanisms; detailed guidance on how to implement specific finance mechanisms, including strategic planning worksheet tools, feasibility assessment worksheet tools, financial mechanism design worksheet tools, and resource valuation information; case studies; and business planning guides, templates, and repositories. CFA’s tools should be used in conjunction with the VCA Framework and TNC’s Human Rights Guide
A number of enabling conditions as well as strategy and design features are key to effective Indigenous Peoples and local communities conservation finance. By producing responses to each item in the checklist, practitioners can use this tool to assess the presence of these key enabling conditions and features for effective financing. In turn this can support efforts to assess viability of financing opportunities, inform the design of financial strategies and mechanisms, and determine priorities to support appropriate capacity-building activities in partnership with Indigenous Peoples and local communities. This tool should be used in discussion and collaboration with the community, or its representative institutions, and relevant experts.