By: Sergio Couto, ICCA Consortium Regional Coordinator for South and West Europe
Currently the ICCA Consortium level of implementation of the advocacy and recognition of ICCAs in Western Europe is very different in the region countries. Being our approach bottom-up, our strategy lays on a direct contact with country individuals or organizations outstanding on ICCAs advocacy, study and, consequently, knowledge. Given the big differences on language, culture and the current legal and cultural frame in each European country (centralized, federal, regional, etc.), as well as the big different history of the Commons issue that has survived privatization on very different and creative ways, it is necessary to focus the approach, at least, from the country level.
A key milestone achieving this was the study on ICCAs recognition and support in England, Italy and Spain (as well as Croatia on the Eastern European part) which resulted in the nr. 64 of the CBD technical series. This gave the opportunity of a deeper study of the situation, variety and needs of ICCAs in those countries. Even more important, it helped to directly contact and identifying those organizations (federations, regional guild associations, etc.) truly representing local communities managing potential ICCAs, as well as outstanding successful experiences and project focused on improving the recognition, resilience and sustainability of these communities.
For example, in the case of Spain, one the outcome of this intensive work was to build contacts and supportive networking between potential ICCAs of very different kinds (fishermen/shell gatherers guilds, transhumant shepherd associations, common woodland organizations, federations of common hunters, etc.) arriving for the first time to a mutual acknowledge of the common history, needs and problematic faced by The Commons in Spain the 21st century. This common interest brought to Valdeavellano de Tera (together with the ICCA Consortium 2013 General Assembly) representative of these groups to work on a “road map” and write and sign the “Declaración de Valdeavellano de Tera”, a keystone document that illustrate the common vision of the local communities and calling for recognition and support on The Commons and ICCAs. This document will be subject of a wide press release very soon in Spanish, English and French.
Now that the network and mutual acknowledge is becoming stronger and the common approach, goals and basic ideas has been clearly, transparently and commonly set, it is time for action. Next step is to establish a Spanish organization from which to start to implement concrete projects addressed to face the most urgent and common threats these communities are facing, from which lack of recognition from administration and general society is not the least. Meanwhile, we are starting to develop the contacts to work on three different project proposals in collaboration with three different local communities’ representatives: one addressed to develop communication tools (webpage, digital forum, etc.) to serve the Spanish potential ICCAs, another one focused in implementing an international EU learning program (ERASMUS +) to enhance the governance experience exchange among several EU local communities, and a last one focused on demonstrative environment governance experiences on potential ICCAs through the new LIFE EU program.