Monday, 10 February 2020
Effective collaboration for environmental gains
FIGURE 1: LEVEL OF COMMITMENT AND MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN EACH WAY OF WORKING TOGETHER.
My Nuffield research looked to better understand what effective collaboration is and why we always talk about it in relation to environmental management. If collaboration is done correctly, a more durable and effective relationship is established.
What is collaboration?
There are key differences about the level of commitment and mutual understanding between collaboration, partnerships and cooperation. Collaboration brings previously separate organisations into a new structure with full commitment to a common mission. Partnerships is a formal relationship with an understanding of the common mission, but authority/accountability still rests with an individual organisation. Cooperation is an informal relationship where groups work alongside each other to achieve a common goal.
During my research and travels I met with collaborative practitioners, academics, community groups, national bodies and farmers to understand what effective collaboration looks like. Common themes began to appear; having a united voice, ensuring the right type of people are involved, determining if collaboration is required and having strong facilitation during the collaborative process.
The leaders of our primary industry need to set clear goals together and have a joint vision on what we want to achieve for our environmental management. These relationships require comprehensive planning and
well-defined communication channels operating on many levels. Authority is determined by the collaborative structure. Risk is much greater because each member of the collaboration contributes their own resources and reputation.
Right type of people
Having the right type of person involved in the collaborative process is vital. The right type of person is someone who can create a movement, can understand where others involved are coming from and has the respect and mana of the people they represent. There is no room for egos in the collaborative process. There are five essential skills an individual involved in the collaborative process should have.
Five collaborative skills
Collaboration is not always necessary but if collaboration is the best option, the process needs to be committed to. It takes time and energy to build the required trust and respect, that is social capital, amongst the parties involved. If the foundation is not set and the time allowed to build trust, the goal will never be achieved.
It is important to first establish the best way to work together. Facilitators can manage the difference in the group, yet move the group forward to make decisions. These facilitators need to be independent of the organisations involved in the regulatory process.
There is no doubt the world we live in today is constantly changing and increasing in complexity. There are higher demands on our natural resources, and we are set with the task of ensuring they are there for generations to come.
Farming and the environment will always go hand in hand. It is up to our primary sector to ensure we continue to learn and improve our farming practices to protect the environment we all live in. Effective collaboration is one of the tools that will enable us to achieve the outcomes we desire.
FIGURE 2: FIVE ESSENTIAL SKILLS REQUIRED BY PEOPLE INVOLVED IN THE COLLABORATIVE PROCESS.