Democratic decentralization of natural resources: institutionalizing popular participation
This report presents preliminary findings and recommendations from research on natural resources in decentralisation efforts around the world. The findings derive from WRI's (World Resources Institute) Accountability, Decentralisation, and Environment Comparative Research Project in Africa, and cases presented at the WRI-organised Conference on Decentralisation and Environment in Bellagio, Italy in February 2002. The Africa-wide research project conducted field studies in Cameroon, Mali, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe in 2000 and 2001. The papers presented were based on WRI's African research project, WRI's Resources Policy Support Initiative in South East Asia, plus case studies from Bolivia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Mongolia, Nicaragua and Thailand. This report evaluates the degree to which natural resource decentralisations have taken place and their measurable social and environmental outcomes. Most of the cases focus on forestry, while a few explore wildlife and water management. The report highlights key issues within natural resource management and democratic decentralisation. The main recommendations from the report are: work with democratic local institutions as a first priority; transfer sufficient and appropriate powers; transfer powers as secure rights; support equity and justice; establish minimum environmental standards; establish fair and accessible adjudication; support local civic education; give decentralisation time; and develop indicators for monitoring and evaluating decentralisation and its outcomes.