Jay

Jay Mistry

Royal Holloway University of London
Egham, United Kingdom

Championing community-based management in Brussels

Sharing experiences and practices at the European Commission

June 20, 2013

Jay Mistry reports on a European Commission workshop where COBRA was showcased.

Project COBRA – Creative Commons

On the 10th and 11th June 2013, Ron Kingham from the Institute of Environmental Security and I attended a European Commission workshop on “Fostering innovative dialogue between researchers and stakeholders to meet future challenges: Land, Soil, Desertification, Urban and Community-Based Environmental Management”. The aim of the workshop was to raise awareness on the different environmental projects funded under the EU 7th Framework and to look ahead to the new EU Horizon 2020 funding that will commence in January 2014.

As well as presenting the project to a wide range of participants, including heads of different EU funding units, academics from across Europe and numerous civil society and industry representatives, it was an excellent opportunity to network with people, exchange ideas and see the different approaches taken to tackling social-ecological challenges. It was noticeable that few projects took a bottom-up, grassroots approach such as COBRA, and that community involvement in research projects was mostly dominated by consultation rather than true participation. The exceptions were our sister projects – the four other projects funded under the same funding call. It was great to meet their project coordinators; Grégoire Leclerc of EcoAdapt, Maria Del Mar Delgado Serrano of COMET-LA, Bettina Matzdorf of CiVi-net and Christian Vogl of COMBIOSERVE.

It was also useful (and reassuring!) to know that the challenges of working in community-based environmental management are shared amongst us, and to see how different projects have responded to these challenges both at the community and institutional level. At the same time, understanding the needs and procedures of the European Commission from our project officer, Ugo Guarnacci, provided important insights into the cross-scalar compatibilities and tensions of working in European Commission projects such as COBRA. It is clear that the European Commission have their own distinctive agenda which is different to international civil society organisations and academics, which in turn is distinctive to the interests of the local communities we engage with. Just like our analysis on the cross-scalar interactions between international policies and community owned solutions, we need to mediate between the various interests in order to identify win-win strategies.

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