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Participation in rituals expression of Tibetaness

In defence of governance
I will not summarise the invective against governance that was recently
offered on our list, but just say that it reminded me of someone looking at a
finger pointing at the moon, missing the moon completely and getting fixated
on the fact that the fingernail is not lacquered Tibetan red. I am convinced
that all the statements and remarks were made in good faith, but how can one
confuse and conflate the fact of discussing governance issues -- i.e. issues of
power and decision-making, rights, responsibilities, accountability and real
consequences for nature and people with an uncritical espousing of the
practice of western governance? What gives to someone the chutzpah of
labelling honest attempts at political change as a conspiracy of the
transnational conservation elite? How can someone simply ignore the
decades of work, efforts, failures and achievements by the hundreds of
organisat ions and people who have been working to change conservation
discourse and practice by subverting terms such as governance and using
them in novel ways?

When some of the organisations and individuals now involved in the ICCA
Consortium decided to focus on governance to leverage a revolution in
conservation, they did so in full consciousness of the fact that the term was
perniciously defined and used by the World Bank for his structural adjustment
programmes (good governance) and actually came to prominence in
Margaret Thatchers UK to boost the power of the private sector. As the
indigenous President of the ICCA Consortium is fond of saying: we must
know how to speak the language of the enemy. That is why we re-defined
governance and used the concept to promote political change in ways that
could not be refused exactly because we adopted accepted speech and
branded values. To understand this it would be sufficient to read the Primer
on Governance for Protected and Conserved Areas noted above, and see how
governance diversity, quality and vitality offer visibility and respect to
collective governance by indigenous peoples and local communities in ways
to be s elf-defined and self-determined by each of them according to their
culture and worldview. The fact that this visibility and respect are now
included in international conservation policy (e.g. in the CBD), and thus able to
affect practice, is due at least in part to the decision of using, cleaning-up, re-
appropriating and redefining the concepts that were needed to promote
change.

Indeed, many members in our list have educated themselves by reading
historians and epistemologists such as the quoted Foucault and the unquoted
Descola. But many have also studied Kropotkin and Polanyi, Bookchin and
Gadgil, Gould and Posey, and R. Rosaldo, E. Ostrom, S.R. Brechin, F. Berkes, A.
Escobar, M. Poffenberger, M. Murphree, J. Weber, J. Sanchez Parga, J.C. Ribot,
J.C. Scott, M. Pimbert and L. Alden Wily just to cite a few among the scholars
and activists who call for strategic action besides reflection and analysis. And,
even more importantly, most members in our list have got bruised and elated
by making sense in real environments and with real communities about what
they believe to be true and important to defend.

Personally, I am very grateful for the implicit advice to remain vigilant about
the use of the governance term. I agree that cooption of governance work
can and does occur as we speak, including in the IUCN, in major international
NGOs and most importantly in the pernicious embrace of the conservation
movement with transnational corporations. A crucial volume to understand
this is Sawyer and Gomezs The Politics of Resource Extraction (UNRISD,
2012). As soon as a term is accepted and gulped-in, it is also neutralised. It
becomes good to attract projects and financial support to large organisations
but it loses its refreshing and revolutionary character. And there is no question
that we need to think critically at our work in general including the fact of
attending major conferences that absorb a huge amount of attention and
resources. Please, however, if anyone in our list wishes to contribute critical
views and remarks, let us do so by being courteous, parsimonious, not
exaggeratedly self-centred and self- referenced, andmost of all well
informed. Not everyone has the time to reply to dozens of e-mails per week,
even when they include statements that should not go unanswered.