TBTI at the Coastal Zone Canada Conference 2018: ‘Engagement and collaboration, examples from the field’

TBTI Director Ratana Chuenpagdee was invited as a keynote speaker as part of the Coastal Zone Canada Conference 2018, held at Memorial University in St. John's, Newfoundland from 15-19 July 2018. Dr. Chuenpagdee presented her keynote address on 'Engagement and Collaboration - Examples from the Field' on the morning of July 17, at the Bruneau Centre for Research and Innovation.

"Where are the communities?": Going from recognition to engagement and collaboration 

In her keynote speech 'Engagement and Collaboration - Examples from the Field', Dr. Chuenpagdee started off by emphasizing the importance of inquiring: “Where are the communities?” and the need to take a step back to ask the basic questions: "Who?", "What?", "When?", "Where?", "How?", and "Why?", as crucial to understanding, engaging and collaborating with communities. Her speech was very well received and mentioned in talks held throughout the day.

When it comes to engaging with communities it is never too early, but shouldn’t be too late. The community engagement needs to be anticipatory and effective, rather than resembling tokenism, with the level of engagement increasing as it moves towards citizen power. There is also a need to differentiate between ‘mandated responsibility’ vs. ‘community driven demands’.

Dr. Chuenpagdee mentioned that small-scale fisheries are embedded in communities, that they usually have multiple occupational livelihoods, and the values they contribute to overall society need to be considered. She pointed out some examples of work in Newfoundland, the importance of the fishery to community values, and importance of small-scale fisheries globally in their support of jobs and their lower ecological impact. Dr. Chuenpagdee explained one way in which small-scale fisheries can be studied, through the use of the Interactive Governance Framework. This framework is holistic and broad in scope, focusing on interactions between a system-to-be-governed, composed by a natural and a social system, and a governing system. It offers a lens through which to look at small-scale fishing communities as embedded in a larger system, where engagement and collaboration take place as interactions that can help increase governability, and adapt to a changing world.

This talk stressed the importance of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly goal 14 'Life Below Water.’ SDG 14 supports many of the other goals such as Goal 2 'Zero Hunger' on alleviating food insecurity, Goal 1 'No Poverty' on poverty reduction, and Goal 13 'Climate Action' in addressing climate change. Dr. Chuenpagdee also referred to the need for a transdisciplinary process, which opens critical inquiry, cuts across and beyond disciplines, encourages collective learning and allows transformation through imagination. Imaginative thinking is critical to engaging with future problems, a point also thoughtfully brought up in the opening talk for the conference by author and activist Sheila Watt Cloutier. 

The take-home message of the talk was that communities at the forefront of the many challenges facing the coastal zone should be at the center of the process and that all begins with engagement.  
Coastal Zone Canada Conference 2018 

Under the theme 'Seeking Practical Solutions to Real Issue: Communities Adapting to a Changing World', the CZC 2018 Conference brought together researchers from various countries to discuss opportunities for community resilience and adaptation in the face of change in coastal areas, which are inherently dynamic. The conference was organized around three sub-themes: ‘Change and Challenge – Realizing Opportunity’, ‘Engagement and Collaboration – Examples from the Field’, and ‘Tools and Technologies – Practical Applications’. The conference was organized by the Coastal Zone Canada Association.