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Community / Land projects / CSPE - The implementation gap in environmental initiatives through community engagement and public pedagogies

CSPE - The implementation gap in environmental initiatives through community engagement and public pedagogies


01/17 - 10/18


This project is part of


It is estimated that 70% of the population of Uganda, Botswana, and Nigeria directly depend on the rich biodiversity of their ecosystems for their livelihoods, health and well-being. These ecosystems are being damaged at alarming rates in conjunction with a deterioration of social, cultural, and economic prosperity. Land degradation currently leads to annual loss of more than 3% of agriculture GDP in the sub-Saharan region, with two-thirds of arable land expected to be lost in Africa by 2025. While research, innovation, and policy addressing these environmental and social realities is carried out nationally and internationally, these occur largely without community involvement or qualitative input, and mostly without successful implementation. The CSPE Network brings together environmental and social scientists in community and public pedagogies to address this apparent implementation gap. As a matter of urgency, the gap between environmental research, innovation, and policy and the communities impacting and being impacted by the environment needs to be mitigated, in order to effectively address the growing issues related to biodiversity degradation. The CSPE Network will seek to develop Innovation and Economic Growth by facilitating innovative cross-disciplinary and cross-sector collaborations to address biodiversity loss in engagement with the social, cultural, and economic factors experienced by communities. Uganda, Botswana, and Nigeria have a rich, important history of non-formal, community and public pedagogies. Focused on learning and teaching outside formal educational institutions, community and public pedagogies include learning in various public and community spaces and can emerge for example, through instruction, engagement, social arts, and popular culture, amongst many other forms. There is a significant field of research and practice in community engagement, indigenous ways of knowing, and vocational development in the African context, but this social science area rarely works directly with environmental science. Hence, there are parallel objectives (environmental sustainability and the well being of people) but a lack of common language, approach, or expertise. In the context of environment-dependent populations, community and public pedagogies are the strongest, fastest, and most appropriate forms of engagement required to connect new scientific information with existing socio-cultural knowledge and realities. The environmental policy implementation gap is not new but it is predominantly put down to failures of governance and control. The CSPE Network postulates that addressing biodiversity degradation without genuine community engagement is a project destined to continue to fail. Likewise, to address the health, well-being, and education of populations without rich, science-based environmental knowledge is equally futile. Furthermore, the leadership of all three countries recognise that the environmental challenges they face require inter-sectoral and holistic attention (Uganda Vision 2040; Nigeria Vision 20:2020; Botswana National Development Plan 10). The CSPE Network proposes that without the full engagement of communities, governance will only further widen the gap between communities and the policy makers and researchers trying to protect them. This sustained dynamic and the ever-increasing set of problems is due not to a lack of knowledge, expertise or financial resources. It is due to the disconnect between environmental science and the engagement of communities: a disconnect this network is designed to mitigate.


The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) supports cutting-edge research to address challenges faced by developing countries. The fund addresses the UN sustainable development goals. It aims to maximise the impact of research and innovation to improve lives and opportunity in the developing world.