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How does the context and design of participatory decision-making processes affect their outcomes? Evidence from sustainable land management in global drylands

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Mark Reed


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Publication metadata

Author(s): deVente J, Reed MS, Stringer LC, Valente S, Newig J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Ecology & Society

Year: 2016

Volume: 21

Issue: 2

Pages: 1-24

Print publication date: 01/06/2016

Acceptance date: 30/12/2015

ISSN (electronic): 1708-3087

Publisher: Resilience Alliance Publications


DOI: 10.5751/ES-08053-210224

Notes: This paper arose from a British Academy funded project based on a research agenda from the highly influential Reed (2008) (cited over 1000 times). For the first time, this paper disentangles the role of process versus context in determining the outcomes of stakeholder participation. This lays the foundations for a new theoretical approach to participation which emphasizes a small number of key process design principles, which can be used to design successful participatory processes in a range of contexts. The paper analyses 20 participatory processes across 11 countries, contrasting varying levels of participation in different contexts. Lessons from this paper have been integrated into guidelines and manuals developed by the EU’s Biodiversa programme (an EU network of 21 research funding agencies across 15 countries), the United Nations’ Economics of Land Degradation initiative, the Regional Environment Centre and the UK Research Councils’ Living with Environmental Change partnership. Findings were presented to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification’s Science and Technology Committee as part of an Impluse Report commissioned by the Convention to inform its next 10 year plan.


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