Translating Biodiversity Policy and Science into Action
There are plenty of biodiversity-related policies and research results in Senegal, but their diffusion and application on the ground remains to be fulfilled. This was one of the main conclusions of an innovative workshop called 'Biodiversity Day' recently organized within the Desert Margins Program action framework by CIRAD (Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Development - France) in Senegal, in collaboration with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), IRD (Institut De Recherche pour le Developpement - France) and the Senegalese Institute for Agricultural Research (ISRA).
Government policies and biodiversity research often seem to be worlds apart. Yet even if these different development sectors can be brought together to work in synchrony, difficult field problems still remain. This is because the trend towards shifting environmental management to the local level has not been accompanied by a transfer of the needed financial and human resources.
And it needs to be more than a simple transfer. There must be a coordinated framework that enables both research and policy to reach local communities in a synergistic way, enabling mutual learning for all involved, the participants concluded.
The Desert Margins Program (DMP) is well-suited to foster these exchanges and learning pathways.
A new day for Senegal
The first of its kind, Biodiversity Day took place in the Institute of Research for Development (IRD) facility in Hann near Dakar on January 17, 2005. The workshop's aim was to catalyze exchanges of information, train, and promote dialogue among policy researchers, national policy-makers and local officials engaged in this topic in Senegal. It brought together the expertise of approximately thirty professionals active in research and management. Many DMP partners from government, international agency, NGO and development investor sectors participated.
An auction format
The Day was opened by research and political leaders of Senegal, followed by a series of formal and abstract presentations and working groups. Informal discussions were encouraged during breaks, aided with a wide selection of 'biodiverse' refreshments.
Participants joined one of three working groups related to their expertise: policy-making, research, or local development. Each group was tasked to make a synthesis of its contributions to the conservation of biodiversity, which represented its offer. Then they were asked to formulate three questions addressed to each of the other two groups (representing a demand), and name a spokesperson for the group. In plenary, offers were then matched against demands through exchanges between the spokespersons of each group.
It was a big success, with great (and amusing) performances by the spokespersons to a spellbound audience of participants. Exchanges are continuing by email since the event.
Going beyond words
The day closed with a theatrical dance to illustrate the role of soil biodiversity and the threats it faces (photo at right).
Read more about it (in French)
A detailed report of Biodiversity Day is available in French, with English summary.
Photo credits: Grégoire Leclerc (meeting around table), Marc Neyra (dancers).