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Hassenforder E.,Australian National University | Smajgl A.,Mekong Region FutuResearch Institute | Ward J.,Mekong Capital
Journal of Environmental Management | Year: 2015

Many scholars point out that in complex and contested decision-making and planning situations, participatory processes have clear advantages over "traditional" or non-participatory processes. Improving our understanding of which participatory process elements or combination of elements contribute to specific outcomes demands a comparative diagnosis of multiple case studies based on a systematic framework. This paper describes the theoretical foundation and application of a diagnostic framework developed for the description and comparative analysis of participatory processes. The framework for the Comparison of Participatory Processes (COPP) is composed of three dimensions: context, process, and outputs outcomes and impacts. For each dimension, a list of variables is provided, with associated selectable options. The framework also requires clarification of three monitoring and evaluation elements. The COPP framework is then applied to five participatory processes across five different contexts: three located in the Mekong basin in Southeast Asia and two in eastern Africa. The goal is to test first if the framework facilitates the development of a comprehensive and clear description of participatory processes, and second, if a diagnostic step can be facilitated by applying the descriptions in a cross-comparative analysis. The paper concludes that despite a few challenges, the COPP framework is sufficiently generic to derive clear and consistent descriptions. A sample of only five case studies restricts the derivation of robust insights. Nevertheless, three testable hypothesis were derived, which would need to be tested with a much larger sample of case studies in order to substantiate the efficacy of process characteristics and attributes. Ultimately, such hypotheses and subsequent analytical efforts would contribute to the advancement of this increasingly prominent research domain. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Source

Smajgl A.,Mekong Region FutuResearch Institute | Ward J.,Mekong Region FutuResearch Institute | Pluschke L.,Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
Journal of Hydrology | Year: 2016

The water-food-energy Nexus has emerged as a new perspective in debates concerned with balancing potentially conflicting sectoral imperatives of large scale development investments concerned with energy, water or food security. Current frameworks are partial as they largely represent a water-centric perspective. Our hypothesis is that a dynamic Nexus framework that attempts to equally weight sectoral objectives provides a new paradigm for diagnosis and investigation. Dynamic refers here to explicitly understanding (or a diagnosis of) the dynamic relationships and ripple effects whereas static-comparative refers to a comparison of states before and after change. This paper proposes a balanced Nexus framework and presents results from an application to the Mekong basin. The analysis identified the advantages of a sectorally balanced, dynamic Nexus approach, in particular the ability to reveal either the emergence of cross-sectoral connections, or changes in those connections, as a consequence of single sector interventions. © 2015 Elsevier B.V.. Source

Smajgl A.,CSIRO | Smajgl A.,Mekong Region FutuResearch Institute | Toan T.Q.,Southern Research Institute | Nhan D.K.,Can Tho University | And 6 more authors.
Nature Climate Change | Year: 2015

Vietnamese communities in the Mekong Delta are faced with the substantial impacts of rising sea levels and salinity intrusion. The construction of embankments and dykes has historically been the principal strategy of the Vietnamese government to mitigate the effects of salinity intrusion on agricultural production. A predicted sea-level rise of 30 cm by the year 2050 is expected to accelerate salinity intrusion. This study combines hydrologic, agronomic and behavioural assessments to identify effective adaptation strategies reliant on land-use change (soft options) and investments in water infrastructure (hard options). As these strategies are managed within different policy portfolios, the political discussion has polarized between choices of either soft or hard options. This paper argues that an ensemble of hard and soft policies is likely to provide the most effective results for people's livelihoods in the Mekong Delta. The consequences of policy deliberations are likely to be felt beyond the Mekong Delta as levels of rice cultivation there also affect national and global food security. © 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved. Source

Smajgl A.,Mekong Region FutuResearch Institute | Smajgl A.,CSIRO | Xu J.,World Agroforestry Center | Egan S.,CSIRO | And 3 more authors.
Environmental Modelling and Software | Year: 2015

Monoculture rubber plantations are rapidly expanding throughout Southeast Asia. The Prefecture of Xishuangbanna is characterised as both an epicenter of Chinese biodiversity and rubber production. The rapid conversion of native primary forest into rubber plantations has introduced tensions between the competing political goals to conserve biodiversity and heritage landscapes - both driving the rapidly emerging tourism industry - and economic aspirations at household and district levels. In China, decision makers discuss payments for ecosystem service schemes to resolve these tensions. As a component of the policy development process, this research project was invited to inform the political debate. Agent-based simulations revealed perverse outcomes of payments for ecosystem services, intended to encourage the conversion of monoculture rubber into agroforestry rubber. As an outcome of this modelling-based initiative, managing agencies have revised previously drafted payment schemes and reconsidered the importance of monitoring and regulatory approaches. © 2015 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Source

Smajgl A.,Mekong Region FutuResearch Institute | Smajgl A.,James Cook University | Ward J.,Mekong Region FutuResearch Institute | Ward J.,CSIRO
Journal of Environmental Management | Year: 2015

This paper describes a structured participatory process and associated evaluation protocol developed to detect systems learning by decision makers involved in the management of natural resources. A series of facilitated participatory workshops were conducted to investigate learning when decision makers and influencers were confronted with the multiple, complex interactions arising from decisions concerned with the nexus of water, food and energy security. The participatory process and evaluation of learning were trialled in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), where integrated scientific evidence was systematically presented to challenge existing beliefs concerned with the effectiveness of proposed policy actions and development investments. Consistent with theoretical propositions, individually held values, beliefs and attitudes were deployed as the primary factors (and psychometrics) that underpin and influence environmental management decision making. Observed and statistically significant changes in the three psychometrics expressed by decision makers in response to the facilitated presentation of scientific evidence during the participatory process, provided supportive evidence of systems learning and the evaluation protocol. © 2015. Source

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