In August, the COBRA project completed a year of research and capacity building. There have been challenges along the way, but here I would like to celebrate some of the highlights of the past year.
Research at the local level has involved substantial community engagement and through the project’s participatory action research approach, local indigenous researchers in Guyana and Brazil have used participatory video and photography to capture the different aspects of community viability. The high degree of enthusiasm and commitment of these community researchers has been inspirational and really spurred all project partners to complete their tasks, including national/regional and international policy reviews within Workpackage 2 (Understanding the current situation). Over 450 indicators were identified by communities, national (Guyanese/Brazilian) and international CSOs which characterised the strength and weaknesses of different levels of organisation: at the community level; at the regional/national level; and at the international policy level.
International and regional future scenario analysis, part of Workpackage 3 (Future scenarios), began in February. In May, scenario development workshops were held in Guyana and different groups of stakeholders came together at the national and local level to discuss their future uncertainties and important drivers of change. Local researchers then used the workshops results to develop films and photostories which are currently being screened and discussed in the communities.
A significant amount of dissemination, as part of Workpackage 6, has occurred and includes community level newsletters and media presentations, as well as the participatory videos and photostories themselves being presented to local communities and at national level stakeholder fora. We have been extremely active at communicating our activities and results on the Cobra website, with over thirty multimedia assets, twenty-five news items, and seven briefings and opinion pieces. As a result, the website has been attracting considerable interest and our latest statistics indicate over 850 unique visits per month. COBRA staff have also presented papers at three international conferences and we will be submitting three papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals over the next few months. Not to mention COBRA’s presence at both Rio+20 and the IUCN world conference in Jeju.
As we enter the second year of the project, key reports on the cross-scalar synergies and/or conflicts between communities, national and international initiatives, and effectiveness of CSO practices on supporting the synergies and minimising the conflicts are currently being completed. Local researchers are completing films and photostories on future scenarios to be uploaded to the website by the end of the month. We have also begun working on the cross-scalar analysis of scenarios, all of which will be feeding into the identification of community best practices (Workpackage 4) and the start of our engagement with other communities throughout the Guiana Shield to disseminate good practice and test our approach (Workpackage 5).
It’s been a very busy year, but stimulating, and working collaboratively has brought about many interesting results and friendships. I’m looking forward to Cobra Year 2!