Strengthening capacity for conflict prevention and the protection of natural resources in Peru
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In the Peruvian Andean region productive activities (agriculture, livestock among others) and especially extractive activities (mining) that is being developed have an impact in the environment and exacerbates vulnerability to climate change. In particular, mining activities contributes to generate an atmosphere conducive to the emergence of socio-environmental conflicts related to the access to and use of scarce natural resources, mainly water and land.
Initially, the project addressed the need to assist key stakeholders to understand, prevent and manage socio-environmental conflicts in the region. Manuals and training material adapted to the local conditions and reality were produced and a series of workshops were conducted. In a second phase, and due to a great demand from local stakeholders, additional training on extrajudicial settlement of disputes (validated by the Ministry of Justice) were conducted, and to that purpose a module on management of socio-environmental conflicts in the Andean Region was developed.. The beneficiaries were the municipalities of the Santo Tomas River Basin located in the regions of Cusco and Apurimac. The activities were designed to target, representatives of civil society, private entities and especially the Council Environmental Commission officials - CAM and the Environmental Management Unit of Santo Tomas provincial and district municipalities eg Colquemarca , Ccapacmarca, Llusco and Quinota in Cusco Region. And the Municipality of Cotabambas provincial and district municipalities eg Chalhuahuacho, Mara, and Haquira in the Apurimac Region.
The programme taught that effective communication and capacity building in the field of conflict prevention and transformation of socio-environmental, strengthens the analytic capabilities and communication skills of local authorities, professionals and inhabitants of the Andean peasant communities facing socio-environmental conflicts. The communication and capacity building training helped the different stakeholders to develop an objective analysis of the conflict and provided them with tools to prevent, manage and transform the socio- environmental conflicts.
We also learned that the organization of these kinds of activities must be planned well in advance, and adapted to the local conditions and realities. Activities should emphasize prevention and management of socio-environmental conflicts.
Also, the need to work jointly with other actors (e.g. the support of the Office of the Ombudsman and Mediation Centers recognized by the Ministry of Justice) was recognized.
Purpose of the activity
The objective was to involve local authorities and the general public in the field of prevention and management of socio-environmental conflicts. At the same time, to build their capacities through a legal training in extrajudicial conciliation institutionalized by the Ministry of Justice of Peru. And to provide them with theoretical framework, methodology and techniques needed to enable the constructive management of socio-environmental conflicts.
Original issue addressed by the activity
The scope of work of the Joint Programme Peru includes nine municipalities of River Basin Santo Tomas. These territories are characterized by the increasing exploitation of mineral deposits and the negative impacts caused by these activities on water sources, the environment and its natural resources and the local wildlife.
As a result, socio-environmental conflicts are emerging over the access and control of these resources.
The types of socio-environmental conflicts that are recognized by local stakeholders are:
- Conflicts caused by the intervention of mining companies in the area.
- Conflicts related to land control and tenure.
- Conflicts caused as a result of inequitable access and distribution of water in peasant communities.
These are the main problems affecting local actors, especially farmers. It is also envisaged that conflicts over water distribution within communal irrigation systems, are also latent, event that they have been unnoticed to the attention of outsiders of the community.
If current trends continue, it is likely that in the coming years Chumbivilcas becomes a "mining province" which may lead to an increase in socio-environmental conflicts in Chumbivilcas, compromising its governance.
Strategy / approach chosen to address the issue
In order to assess the situation, a baseline of environmental conflicts was developed through participatory assessments. The program also conducted ad hoc research on the potential socio-environmental conflicts. Once substantive amount of quality information was gathered, a strategy for intervention was developed. The purpose was to develop training materials and to conduct training activities for the prevention and transformation of environmental conflicts.
The Extra-judicial conciliatory formation (recognized by the State - Ministry of Justice) provides alternative mechanisms of conflict resolution (mediation, negotiation, conciliation, , arbitration). The aim is to promote the approach of conflict resolution through direct communication with the involved parties, primarily attending their needs and circumstances.
In this training process, the theoretical approach was complemented by a practical phase in which all knowledge acquired on the first theoretical stage was implemented. The practical stage includes among others, the simulation of public hearings in case studies, and the application of specific tools for alternative socio-environmental conflict resolution.
Implementation of the strategy / chosen approach
In order to assess the situation in the area two studies / situational diagnosis were conducted :
- Diagnosis on major social and environmental concerns that could potentially become a source of conflict in the intervention area - Association of Municipalities of the Santo Tomas River Basin - AMSAT.
- Study of Socio-Environmental Conflicts in the Santo Tomas River Sub watershed - Chumbivilcas Province, Cusco region.
Both studies concluded that the socio-environmental conflict context in the provinces of Cotabambas Chumbivilcas would increase significantly over the next 5 years.
Once the information was placed, a strategy intervention was developed based on:
- The implementation of training activities for the prevention and transformation of environmental conflicts. For this purpose training materials were designed, such as: A Guide for Transforming Socio-Environmental Conflicts and a Workshop Exercise Guide for Conflict Transformation. In addition workshops were conducted in each of the River Basin municipalities of Santo Tomas.
- The implementation of a extrajudicial conciliation training course with a module on Socio-Environmental Conflict Management institutionalized by the Ministry of Justice.
Results and Impacts
For the first time in the country training on extrajudicial conciliation focused on socio-environmental conflict resolution took place, , thus contributing to comply with the Framework Law on the Environment of Peru, which mandates to promote alternative mechanisms for dispute resolution: mediation, conciliation, arbitration. The extrajudicial conciliators training reached 40 students comprised of local authorities, local and regional governments’ and different practitioners in the region. The initiative graduated 36 court conciliators all of them recognized by the Ministry of Justice of Peru.
Thirteen workshops on communication and socio-environmental conflict management involving over 300 people were conducted in all nine municipalities of the Santo Tomas River Basin in the provinces of Cotabambas and Chumbivilcas.
As a result of the Joint Programme initiative, local authorities and the general public are increasingly working together in the prevention and management of socio-environmental conflict. Their capacities have been strengthened and they now have the theoretical framework, the methodology, and the techniques needed to enable constructive management of socio-environmental conflicts.
The CD produced by the JP Peru includes the following documents:
- Diagnostic study on major social and environmental concerns that could potentially become a source of conflict in the intervention area - AMSAT;
- Study of Socio-Environmental Conflicts in Santo Tomas River Watershed - Chumbivilcas Province, Cusco Region;
- Final report of conciliatory course and materials used;
- Guide for Transforming Socio-Environmental Conflicts;
- Workshop Exercise Guide for Conflict Transformation;
- Final report of the course facilitators and material used.
This is a new experience therefore technical (professionals), financial (for the promotion and consolidation of these processes), and political support is needed to institutionalize alternative mechanisms for socio-environmental conflict resolution.
Potential replication / application
This experience could be applied at a national, regional and local level in other areas in which environmental conflicts are emerging. To consolidate and to ensure implementation in other areas, the Joint Programme contributed to the creation of an Office of Peace and Prevention of Socio-Environmental Conflicts within the Regional Government of Cusco. For replication in other contexts we recommend the following steps:
First, develop a baseline study of the socio-environmental conflict situation e.g.; participatory assessments and ad hoc research on the potential socio-environmental conflicts.
Thereafter, design an intervention strategy to guide the implementation of the training. This activity should be coordinated with the representatives of the municipalities, which could include the Municipal Environmental Commissions – (CAMs, in Spanish) or the Municipal Environmental Management Units, for example. It should also include civil society and private sector representatives. It is also important to coordinate with the Office of Extrajudicial Conciliation of the Ministry of Justice and with the Ombudsman, to conduct a joint extrajudicial conciliators training process. This process should be designed to target municipal authorities, civil society, private sector, as well as university students and the general public interested in the subject.
Thirdly, design appropriate materials containing the theory and practice of conflict prevention and transformation of socio-environmental conflict and conduct the workshops, with the support of experienced professionals in the field.
Finally, the organization of these activities must be planned in advance and emphasize the prevention and management of socio-environmental conflicts.
It is also important to interact with other relevant stakeholders. In this regard, the parliament becomes a key partner, since the enacted of regulations for alternative mechanisms for socio-environmental conflict resolution is needed. These include environmental conciliation, arbitration and negotiation. All this has to be done with the support of the Office of the Ombudsman and Mediation Centers recognized by the Ministry of Justice.
- The CD produced by the JP Peru.
- Diagnostic study on major social and environmental concerns that could potentially become a source of conflict in the intervention area - AMSAT
- Study of Socio-Environmental Conflicts in Santo Tomas River Watershed - Chumbivilcas Province, Cusco Region
- Final report OF conciliatory course and material used