Building Support 6.1: National Committees
A critical aspect of supporting a long term IBA conservation programme is the ability to engage and build ownership of the IBA programme across a variety of key stakeholders. This can be achieved through the establishment of mechanisms that gather representatives from different interest groups. At the national level, there are many ways in which stakeholders can become engaged in IBA conservation. These include:
- joining the membership of a BirdLife organisation;
participate in national conservation networks;
developing site conservation partnerships among government, civil society and private sector organisations.
A more structured approach which has been particularly developed and implemented in Africa is the creation of a National Liaison Committee (NLC) to oversee the IBA programme in the country. This brings together, as appropriate, a variety of key stakeholders from Government (local and central authorities), NGOs (local and national), professional and academic structures. The establishment of such committees can be very effective in gathering momentum, building ownership and support to the IBA programme as well as supervising and supporting monitoring and conservation action. It also provides important links to institutions who might have a direct involvement in decisions that may affect or benefit the conservation status of a specific IBA.
Risks and Critical Elements
The main weakness of this approach is its long term sustainability. With several NLCs, after the first initial phase of site identification, their role and work has become less clear and targeted with a consequent disenfranchising of the members. For these NLCs to work it is critical to ensure good leadership, clear roles and objectives, good communications and regular reporting. It is also important that the stakeholders feel that the outcome of their work is relevant to their organisation or constituency.
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