Flores, Azores Island Foresight and Sustainable Economic Development BBS Doctoral Symposium March 2009

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Flores, Azores Island Foresight and Sustainable Economic Development BBS Doctoral Symposium March 2009 …

Flores, Azores Island Foresight and Sustainable Economic Development BBS Doctoral Symposium March 2009
Andrew Williams Jr
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  • 1. BBS Doctoral Symposium 23rd & 24th March 2009 Flores, foresight and sustainable economic development José Benedicto Royuela (jose.benedicto@brunel.ac.uk) 68517504 Supervisors: Prof. Malcolm Eames (malcolm.eames@brunel.ac.uk) Prof. Susan Buckingham (susan.buckingham@brunel.ac.uk)
  • 2. Flores, foresight and sustainable economic development 1 BBS Doctoral Symposium 23rd & 24th March 2009 Flores, foresight and sustainable economic development ABSTRACT: Institutions and specialised stakeholders are aware of the inherently ‘wicked’ problem posed by sustainable development. Developing tools for reflexive governance is therefore considered a key challenge in this respect. The research is aimed at proposing a reflexive learning process that will involve decision makers, specialist stakeholders and local citizens in a reflexion (scenario foresight) on the prospective sustainable development of Flores Island (Azores). As sustainability is a multi-dimensional concept, a broad range of disciplinary, institutional and social interests will be represented. The research will also provide an opportunity for regional institutions to assess their visions against the community’s expectations revealed through the case study.
  • 3. Flores, foresight and sustainable economic development 2 Flores, foresight and sustainable economic development 1- Introduction Satisfactory articulation of sustainability goals requires a decision making process that incorporates societal expectations. This can be achieved through a participative foresight process. In isolated small societies, distant from strategic decision making centres and where there is a limited capacity for developing scientific knowledge, one of the few ways of reaching these sustainable goals is designing management plans that will frame the area’s development. These plans must consider external factors, such as evolution of the demand or technological transitions, in order to adapt to them as effectively as possible and to preserve and benefit from their specificities. Islands represent good case studies as they “may appear to be clearly definable units, where all inputs and outputs can be measured, providing a useful ‘laboratory’ to test theories of sustainable development” (Kerr, 2005). The Azores (Portugal), and the specific case of Flores Island, have proved to be an attractive site for research on sustainability and nature conservation (for instance a MIT project on renewal energy is currently happening in Flores Island). Local and regional institutions will in the middle term face a series of programs and policies that will challenge their ability of managing multi-disciplinary goals. Although the Azores are an European developed region, ultraperiphery and considering that regional government has autonomy in the organisation of the regional institutions and legislation related to strategic matters, it is enlighten for the research
  • 4. Flores, foresight and sustainable economic development 3 to refer to UN’s classification of SIDS and the Barbados Program of Action (May 1994). The present research will design and implement a participative process whereby inhabitants, local and regional decision makers and specialized stakeholders will take part in reflexive process in order to improve the island’s sustainable development. The process will contribute with deeper insights on what are Flores’ community visions for the future and how these fit into Azorean sustainable development programs. “Socially robust knowledge” (Gibbons, 1999) will be produced as groups of local inhabitants will participate in the process, meaning a “bottom-up” flow of information. This way, participant stakeholders will take in consideration local citizens’ expectations in their final appraisal, helping to produce a socially reliable output. 2- Literature Review Multi-criteria appraisal techniques allow the appraisal of sustainable development policies against multiple criteria, in order to aid decision-making. Issues related with sustainability imply analysis of multidimensional and often conflicting facets of a policy. Multi-criteria Appraisal is useful in decision making because it allows the systematic comparison of incommensurable options and perspectives (Martinez-Alier et al, 1998). Martinez-Alier et al understand incommensurability as “the absence of a common unit of measurement across plural values” and they affirm: “The main advantage of multicriteria models is that they make it possible to consider a large number of data, relations and objectives which are generally present in a specific real-
  • 5. Flores, foresight and sustainable economic development 4 world decision problem, so that, the decision problem at hand can be studied in a multifunctional fashion”. In the present research Multi-criteria appraisal will integrate a participatory methodology whereby stakeholders and local citizens will first help producing scenarios and identifying possible evaluation criteria. Multi-Criteria Mapping will be used in the appraisal of future scenarios. Stakeholders evaluate a series of options “against their own sets of criteria”, systematic analyse of uncertainties and sources of variability, it allows studying a large range of perspectives. This process helps figuring the different options through knowing the evaluation and weight of each criterion, the uncertainties and finally by calculating the general performance of each option. It is a transparent process that allows opening up and closing down, “the approach is based on the understanding that there is not necessarily a single ‘best’ solution” (McDowall & Eames, 2006). Socio-technical transitions will be studied to know what will be the visions and the pathways to these transitions. They will bring light to processes that analyse multidisciplinary decision making policies. Research should specially be based on “development of shared problem definitions, normative visions (including long-term goals) and prospective transition pathways” (Eames & McDowall, in press). Analyse of transitions in the paths to sustainability is important as “transitions are interesting from the viewpoint of sustainability, because they offer the prospect of a magnitude of environmental benefits, alongside wider social benefits through the development of systems that are inherently more environmentally benign” (Kemp & Loorbach, 2006). Flores Island scores reasonable in the Dashboard Index of Sustainability presented in the report Perspectives for Sustainability in the Azorean
  • 6. Flores, foresight and sustainable economic development 5 Region, this means that sustainability could be improved, especially in social and environment matters. Reflexive Governance is considered to be the background for a satisfactory search of sustainable development and the design of convenient transition pathways. Principles of reflexive governance are the “integration of knowledge, adaptivity, anticipation, iterative and participative goal formulation and interactive strategy development” (Weber, 2006). The building of strong Social capital “seems to be a precondition for economic development as well as for effective government”, Putnam cited in Ritchey-Vance (1996), in that perspective building strong social capital will help creating previous conditions for the success of socio-technical transitions to sustainability. As Eco-tourism is a strategic sector in the island this study will necessarily treat it. Harold Goodwin (1996) noticed that there are three ways ecotourism can be positive for protected areas: it is a source of income for the management of the area, it can benefit economically the populations living in the area (and will be a reason to their willing for their sustainable management) and is a way of awareness rising about nature conservation. Isolated from mainland and with a reduced area, compared to mainland, islands’ geographic specificities seem historically have governed their socio-economic life. Liam Campling (2006) realised a critical study on Small Island Developing States. In this paper she analysed SIDS’s situation and issues. One of the arguments she gives to differentiate SIDS with other Small Developing Economies are “the permanent nature of their geographical constraints and their associated extreme economic vulnerability”.
  • 7. Flores, foresight and sustainable economic development 6 3- Description and background on case study area (WHERE? AND WHY?) - Flores island (WHERE?) Flores (Figure 1) has an area of 143 km2. It is divided into two councils, Lajes das Flores and Santa Cruz das Flores (estimated population in 2006, 4041 inhabitants). The first stable human settlement dates from the XVIth century. Figure 1: The Azores and Flores island (source: Internet) Figure 2 represents schematically the island’s structure. Most of the activity (urban areas, communication structures and industries) is concentrated in the coast. Inland there are agricultural systems and other ecologic structures (PROTA, 2008) (often compatible with agricultural activities such as raising cattle and timber production). The centre of the island, highest point, is dominated by nucleus protected natural ecosystems where the most valuable habitats and volcanic lakes can be found. Azorean regional government reports consider nature, diving, walking and rest as the strategic tourism activities of Flores Island.
  • 8. Flores, foresight and sustainable economic development 7 Figure 2: Schematic Flores Island’s structure - Why Flores is a good case study? (WHY?) Flores Island represents a series of challenges and characteristics that place this island in a privileged situation for research. The island has a very low human density and population is concentrated in two centres. Almost 75% of the island comprises natural areas of relative good conservation status, including 34.3% of Nucleus areas of nature conservation, which are mainly Natura 2000 sites (PROTA, 2008). These areas
  • 9. Flores, foresight and sustainable economic development 8 represent an important opportunity for ecotourism that is a strategic sector in the region. On the other hand, policies aimed at increasing economic activity in the island, present a challenge for regional institutions in reconciling the double (and apparently contradictory) goals of nature conservation and human development, especially in reduced and vulnerable areas such as SIDS. The small scale, island level, is considered interesting as it is an opportunity to include and understand the relations between all the main aspects that can be found in a specific society. The size of the population makes it feasible. Local and regional institutions are willing to participate in the project as the region is officially interested in participatory policy making for sustainability. 4- Aims & Objectives (WHAT?) Aim: Create an adapted and participative process that will support sustainable development policies at an island level. Objectives: 1- Design and apply a participative appraisal process that will promote understanding of sustainable development goals and policies at an island level. 2- To engage expert stakeholders and local citizens in a reflective participatory process to develop specific scenarios for the future for Flores Island 3- To undertake an expert led multi-criteria sustainability appraisal of these future scenarios 4- To contribute to raising awareness and societal dialogue of sustainable development in Flores.
  • 10. Flores, foresight and sustainable economic development 9 5- Methodology (outline of proposed approach) (HOW?) The methodology that is going to be used in this case will allow defining what can be the future realistic scenarios in the Island development. In that purpose a three phase process seems to be the most suitable: - Scoping interviews: with decision makers and stakeholders in order to have an idea of what are the potential scenarios for the island. (April 2009) - Focus groups meetings: Island inhabitants (grouped as follows: tourism entrepreneurs, farmers, local producers, fishers and nature conservation) will directly reflect on the scenarios obtained from the scoping interviews, creating enriched and revised visions of those scenarios. (August-September 2009) - Multi-Criteria Mapping Appraisal. (October-December 2009) The appraisal methodology will use information provided by official reports as well as contrasting it with the societal/citizens expectations. The research will also explore the different points of view of the specialists involved and what criteria are considered more important. This is significant for regional policies as it considers the island specificities and it also can be an opportunity to refer to the actual economic situation. Figure 3 presents an overview of the process. The process is intended to provide an opportunity to reflect on regional reports and local visions; feedback could be created in order to inform regional institutions, this is why the figure represents a closed process. But, as the research does not have official status the last part of the process will not form part of my doctoral research (this is why the arrow is in another colour).
  • 11. Flores, foresight and sustainable economic development 10 Figure 3: Research overview Figure 4 shows how the process is willing to focus on local particularities in a first phase and how then this information will be appraised against institutional visions (Perspectivas para a sustentavilidade na Região Autónoma dos Açores, 2006). Figure 4: Research overview Regional policies (PReDSA) 5 scenarios Scoping interviews Alternatives scenarios (draft) Focus Groups Analyse PReDSA’s scenariosand create alternative Analyse and enrichment of alternative scenarios Alternatives scenarios (enriched) M.C.M. interviews Possible feedback for regional policy makers Scenario’s appraisal
  • 12. Flores, foresight and sustainable economic development 11 This research will mean an innovative application of participative and appraisal methodologies to better understand a specific area, relevant at the region’s level, and a case study for other research on participative policy making for sustainability.
  • 13. Flores, foresight and sustainable economic development 12 References: Campling, L. (2006) ‘A Critical Political Economy of the Small Island Developing States Concept: South-South Cooperation for Island Citizens?’ Journal of Developing Societies, 22, p.235 Eames, M. and McDowal, W. (in press) ‘Sustainability, foresight and contested futures: exploring visions and pathways in the transition to a hydrogen economy’, International Summer Academy on Technology Studies – Transforming the Energy System Gibbons, M. (1999) ‘Science’s new social contract with society’, Nature, 402, pp.81- 84 Goodwin, H. (1996) ‘In pursuit of ecotourism’, Biodiversity and Conservation, 5, pp.277-291 Kemp, R. and Loorbach, D. (2006) ‘Transition management: a reflexive governance approach’, in: Voss, J-P., Bauknecht, D. and Kemp R. (eds) Reflexive Governance For Sustainable Development. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, Glos, pp.103-130 Kerr, S.A. (2005) ‘What is small island sustainable development about?’ Ocean and Coastal Management, 48, pp.503-524 Martinez-Alier, J., Munda, G. and O’Neil, J. (1998) ‘Weak comparability of values as a foundation for ecological economics’, Ecological Economics, 26, pp.277-286 McDowall, W. and Eames, M. (2006) ‘Towards a Sustainable Hydrogen Economy: A multi-criteria mapping of the UKSHEC hydrogen futures, full report’. UKSHEC Ritchey-Vance, M. (1996) ‘Social Capital, Sustainability and Working Democracy: New Yardsticks for Grassroots Development’ Grassroots Development Journal, 20 (1) Weber, K.M. (2006) Foresight and adaptive planning as complementary elements in anticipatory policy-making: a conceptual and methodological approach, in: Voss, J-P., Bauknecht, D. and Kemp R. (eds) Reflexive Governance For Sustainable Development. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, Glos, pp.189-221 Others: Perspectivas para a sustentavilidade na Região Autónoma dos Açores, Contributo para a elaboração de um plano regional de desenvolvimento sustentável (May 2006) Coordination: Secretaria Regional do Ambiente e do Mar - Direcção Regional do Ordenamento do Território e dos Recursos Hídricos. Available at: http://sra.azores.gov.pt/predsa/ [Accessed June 2009] PROTA, Plano regional de ordenamento do território para a Região Autónoma dos Açores, Volume 1 – Visão e Sistemas Estruturantes (October 2008) Coordinator: Eduardo Carqueijeiro. Available at: http://sram.azores.gov.pt/drotrh/prota/documentos.htm [Accessed November 2008]