Romain Calaque: Natural Heritage Conservation and Territorial Governance
Please download the Document: Natural Heritage Conservation and Territorial Governance (A4) - RC.pdf (522.8 KiB)
This paper does not focus on the political, economic, social and cultural values ensuing from the qualification of nature as heritage or as resource. Rather, it examines the conditions of such qualification and arbitration. Therefore, it is not a holistic reflection that can shed light on all policy negotiations, but a pragmatic reflection that focuses on the second phase of the democratic process as described by the following famous quotation ascribed to Paul Ricœur: “a democratic society is one that is considered divided, that is characterized by conflicting interests, and which seeks to associate each citizen on an equal basis to express, analyze and examine those contradictions in order to achieve arbitration” (underlined by the author).
In other words, it does not examine the conflicting interests themselves, but focuses on the conditions for associating citizens in the expression, analysis, discussion and arbitration of these conflicting interests. It does not indicate the conflicting interests affecting the management of natural heritage, but directly focuses on the conditions of action to understand who and how decisions concerning such heritage are made. The “who and how” is what will later be referred to as the governance of heritage (see also the contradictory reflections concerning the definition of the term governance).
As simply defined, governance comprises two components: “who” takes decisions and “how” are they taken. Concerning the governance of natural heritage in Central Africa, we will begin by examining the actors that participate in decision making, that is the actors technocrats refer to as “stakeholders”. Although these actors are quite many and varied, that has not always been the case. Some two or three hundred years ago, what is considered as natural heritage in our era used to be negotiated and decided by two categories of actors, namely the big European traders who took part in the triangular trade and the local leaders of the African coast (kings, notables, lineage heads, etc.) who controlled trade with the hinterland. During the XIXth century, these traders were replaced by European operators who established and imposed themselves as sector negotiators.
Where such trade negotiations were concluded under the guise of international negotiations during the colonial period, Western political leaders and so-called State actors played an increasingly prominent role in negotiations on natural heritage/resources.
After independence, the political leaders of newly independent nations sat on the table of negotiation on natural heritage/resources. A few years later, with the advent of international borrowings, and much more at the end of the thirty-year post-war boom known as “the 30 boom years” and the advent of structural adjustment programmes, institutional donors played a key role in an increasing number of decisions, including those regarding the future of the environment.
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