ProBenefit : Implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity in the Ecuadorian Amazon

University essay from Södertörns högskola/Institutionen för livsvetenskaper

Abstract: Legislation on benefit sharing dates back to 1992 and the commandment of the UNConvention on Biological Diversity, hence implementation still has few cases to fall back on(CBD, 1992). The case study of the project ProBenefit presented by the thesis highlights howlack of deliberation can undermine a democratic process. The objective of the thesis is thatProBenefit’s attempt to implement the standards of the CBD on access and benefit sharingwill highlight not only problems met by this specific project, but difficulties that generallymeet democratic processes in contexts of high inequality. To define if the project ProBenefitsucceeded in carrying out a deliberative process the project will be analyzed by the criteria:access to information, representation, legitimacy and involvement.The population in the project area of ProBenefit had a long history of social marginalization,which made it hard for foreign projects to gain legitimacy. The lack of independentorganizations and the late establishment of the project, which resulted in time shortage, madeit impossible to prevent the distrust of the local population. The failure of the projectcoordinators to ensure active participation of all stakeholders resulted in a late and lowinvolvement of the local participants. The absence of independent organization also madedemocratic legitimacy of the process questionable. Even if ProBenefit had a vision ofdemocratic deliberation the project was unable to break down the prevailing unequal powerdistribution which resulted in an unsustainable process and failure. The conclusion of thethesis is that the attainment of deliberation foremost depends on how a project deals with theexisting distribution of power and how it succeeds in involving all stakeholders.

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