How do we get everybody at the table? Enhancing diversity in multi-stakeholder processes for landscape restoration.
Abstract: Global ecosystem degradation challenging ecological and social thresholds demands urgent responses that address systemically the complex interrelationships between humans and nature. To improve the adaptive capacity of the social systems and strengthen its resilience to respond to external challenges affecting landscapes, multi-stakeholder approaches for landscape restoration involving diverse actors expressing different perspectives are important. While historically absent groups are recognised as the actors that, when meaningfully engaged, achieve transformational change, the literature is unclear on how this is achieved.This research aims to better understand the particular elements that enhance and limit the ability to establish a diverse range of participants within multi-stakeholder processes for landscape restoration. Using semi-structured interviews with practitioners with relevant experience in engaging historically absent groups, we found that including diversity is an iterative process of forming a microcosm as a complex, adaptive system representing the wider landscape through building on synergies and filling the gaps. A wide range of specific strategies exist to address concrete and structural obstacles hindering participation. Moreover, the specific role of the facilitator, their intangible skills that allow them to be capable of self- awareness, deep reflection and listening, are a key leverage point to navigate the complexity around many systemic obstacles preventing actors on the edge of systems from participating.
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