Integrated action planning is an approach that is well suited to engaging stakeholders in joint assessment and decision-making with respect to aquatic resources planning and management. There is an urgent need to reconcile the continued use of highland aquatic resources with biodiversity conservation. Maintaining stocks and flows of ecosystem services is necessary to sustain broader societal systems. Given this background, the HighARCS project realised the need to formulate an integrated action planning approach which could accommodate multiple stakeholder perspectives and:
a) address perceived conservation, livelihoods and policy needs and deficiencies;
b) evaluate proposed actions with regards potential negative impacts on conservation and livelihoods or conflicts with policy and existing management arrangements;
c) identify appropriate indicators relevant to conservation, livelihoods and policy for monitoring and assessing impacts of Integrated Action Plans (IAPs).
A series of eight steps to enable a cyclical process of adaptive and integrated action planning were identified, progressing from stakeholder assessment and engagement, through to joint evaluation of impacts and revised target setting, where the process begins again. Tools specifically to support joint strategic planning are summarised below and links to appropriate HighARCS project outputs and other relevant resources provided to promote the uptake of integrated action planning.
The HighARCS project navigated the boundary between development and research striving for positive changes in terms of biodiversity, ecosystems services and livelihoods in the study sites, whilst in parallel analysing and evaluating the process to draw out new knowledge on the potential of action planning in the highlands of Asia and lessons to support others in adopting IAP in other settings. Integrated action planning proved to be a valuable research process, enabling the project to facilitate a process of joint assessment and decision-making with stakeholders. Care is needed, however, to avoid raising false expectation, especially where initiatives are predominantly research oriented with little resources to fund development activities. Despite this, outcomes of integrated action planning should be of value to participants and supplementary activities should be identified during the implementation phase (2.2) to address resource and support needs. It should also be acknowledge that local level planning initiatives are ongoing in most locations and imposition of integrated action planning may be regarded as an unhelpful of backward step or may not fit with constitutional norms. Conversely, the introduction of integrated action planning could provide a legitimate means to challenge business-as-usual and preconceived ideas, and constitute an adaptable approach that can be implemented at a range of scales to promote wise-use of aquatic resources and biodiversity conservation.
|Description of the Integrated Action Planning Process (pdf)||Eight phases of an integrated action planning process were identified to guide other initiatives, encompassing stakeholder assessment and engagement, through rapport building and agreement on collaboration, integrated assessment of biodiversity, livelihoods, ecosystems services and policy and conflicts, joint problem analysis and target setting, joint strategic planning, joint planning and organisation of activities, coordinated implementation and joint monitoring, to joint evaluation of impacts and revised target setting.|
|CME Guidelines (pdf)||Specific Communication, Monitoring and Evaluation (CME) requirements for the Joint Strategic Planning phase include the participation of stakeholders in the research, planning and implementation processes and the capability of key stakeholders to implement the joint plan.Key stakeholders should be identified as they are the groups whose participation in the planning and implementation processes will be crucial.|
|Draft Integrated Action Plan Formulation (pdf)||Draft Integrated Action Plans should be formulated based on integrated assessment outcomes and conservation, livelihoods and policy needs identified by communities, stakeholder groups and policy-makers. Systematic representation of multiple-perspectives in the form of integrated action plans is an important starting point to verify the actions proposed by particular stakeholder groups and to elicit reflections on the proposals of others from other resource user groups and stakeholder with different priorities.|
|Stakeholder Identification and Engagement (pdf)||Drawing on preliminary stakeholder engagement (2.1) all groups with a potential role to play in implementing the draft action plan should be identified and vulnerable people, notably poor and marginal community members including women, young people and older people, that may be disproportionately affected by changes to aquatic resources access and management regimes should be engaged in assessing and refining the integrated action plan. Representation of biodiversity and environmental concerns can often be overlooked and appropriate advocates should be identified to participate in the process.|
|Facilitate Interactive Stakeholder Participation (pdf)||Arrange meetings with communities, households and stakeholders (relevant to the Integrated Action Plans) to discuss, elaborate and revise draft IAPs and seek support and better understand potential barriers to proposed actions and subsequent implementation. A detailed description of how to do this is included here based on focus groups discussions conduced in Vietnam.|
|Convene Joint Stakeholder Assessment Workshops||Convene a joint stakeholder workshop, bringing together different communities and stakeholders. Present a summary of outcomes from the joint assessment process and introduce important new knowledge in plenary sessions. Ask assembled community members and selected stakeholder representatives to review and revise Integrated Action Plans in light of plenary sessions and then present IAPs to the assembled workshop participants for critical review and to garner broad-based support.|
|Indicator Selection - IAP Process and Impacts (pdf)||Indicators can be identified for two distinct categories with regards Integrated Action Plans implementation: indicators relating to the process; and indicators relating to the impacts of IAP implementation.|
|Integrated Action Plan Outline and Structure (pdf)||An outline of a reporting format was prepared to ensure documentation of the integrated action plan development process and resulting management proposals was comprehensive and consistent across sites, potentially enabling comparative assessment between sites and the identification of common constraints and opportunities.|