And the People Shall Lead: Centralizing Frontline Community Leadership in the Movement Towards a Sustainable Planet

This paper summarizes a workshop held as part of the February 2011 Coal Retirement Conference that focused on how environmental organizations and frontline communities could more effectively work together. The report highlights several challenges that have stymied mutual collaboration in the past, and some core actions that can support more effective partnerships going forward. While not specific to climate adaptation, these lessons are certainly applicable to those working on equitable adaptation planning.

Identify principles of collaboration that can support successful and reciprocal partnerships. 

The paper describes several barriers to collaboration. This includes the reputation of environmental organizations as non-people centric, top-down, and as tokenizing frontline communities when it is politically advantages. Additionally, community groups and environmental organizations often do not have aligned processes for decision-making and measuring success. Beyond this are conflicts of issues, cultural differences, and logistical challenges.

Recommendations for overcoming these barriers are offered. The paper emphasizes the importance of building strong relationships and tenets of solidarity, setting a clear agenda, and agreeing upon a shared methodology. For example, to ensure better collaboration, the recommendations are to provide anti-oppression training to staff, provide interpretation services, and share credit for work equally.

Publication Date: 2011

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