Local development initiatives and institutions/governance (2)

This second part of presentations on the theme was characterized by a wide variation of experiences from a large set of European (Sweden, Greece, Norway, Finland, Scotland) and non-European (Himalaya, Guatemala, New Guinea, Nepal and Ecuador) regions from all over the world. Beyond the different regional contexts, also main topics addressed varied much more than in the first set of presentations, making comparisons between them even more difficult. However, teh wide scope of issues also underpins some oft eh fundamental aspects for „local development“, i.e. the place-based and contextual setting, and mountain specificity for the issue.

Nevertheless a number of interesting lessons can be summarized:

  • Variations of approaches in the processes observed are relevant at different levels, and appropriate scales and relationships to higher scales must not be neglected.
  • This aspect is captured in work presented on involved institutions and governance issues (sometimes referred to as multi-level governance requirements), and need for or observation of institutional changes over time.
  • The most crucial aspect seems to be capturing the relevant actors, or taking account of limitations of actor groups addressed, different perspectives of these actors (and actors‘ groups) and effects of empowerment strategies (e.g. increasing participation of women).
  • The processes of local devleopment can only be assessed suffciently by extending to qualitative methods, enabling an enhanced understanding of the different aspects of actors, role of trust creation and institutional involvement.
  • While many different themes of activities are relevant (examples include natural resource use, social capital, land use, energy etc.) innovation (in its region-specific meaning) seems crucial. Although not explicitly mentioned, a broad definition of innovation, particularly extending to social innovation aspects is relevant.
  • A particular emphasis is on learning processes that support enhanced local decision procedures. These can be assessed against concepts of sustainable development in mountain regions and activities to strengthen resilience.
  • It should be mentioned again that this approach cannot be relaized through secoral plans and action, but inevitably requires the combined analysis of different dimensions, in particular, people involved, the balanced assessment of localised economy and environmental constraints, cultural contexts, institutional settings and the interrelation to other areas and (higher) administrative levels.

Quite often, the cases presented referred to substantial deficiencies at local scales and a high influence of power relations (within/between areas) that restrict the local development potential of mountain regions.

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