Governing a territory of life: Questions for a grassroots discussion
A legitimate, equitable and effective system of governance is necessary for a territory of life to remain alive and thriving through time. A governance institution for a territory of life usually includes one or more social structures (e.g., a community general assembly, a council of elders, a municipal council) as well as a system of values and processes that contribute to developing, agreeing upon, and enforcing rules and regulations.
Governance is about who decides, how decisions are taken, and who makes sure that decisions are implemented. It concerns power, authority and responsibility. Learn more!
While the #resilience and security tool includes some basic questions on territory of life governance, a community may wish to have a more in-depth discussion and understanding of this important topic. The guiding questions below can help in this:
Legitimacy and fairness
- Is our territory of life governance institution accepted and appreciated by the entire community?
- Are the perspectives of all groups within our community fairly represented in the decision-making and communications processes for our territory of life?
- Do some groups in our community — e.g., men and women, elders and young people, ethnic minorities or language groups — benefit more, or experience more negative impacts because of our decisions about our territory of life? If so, how can we remedy that?
- Can decision-making processes for our territory of life be made fairer and more effective? How?
- Can the enforcement of rules for our territory of life be made fairer and more effective? How?
- Is there a clear and shared vision for our territory of life? Is there a plan to reach that vision? (See also #Vision & Celebrate)
- Were our vision and plan developed with the participation and agreement of all concerned community members?
- Do our vision and plan inspire the involvement, support and commitment of our community?
Accountability and transparency
- Are the rules and ways of caring for our territory of life well known within our community? And by relevant external actors?
- Do community members feel able to talk about territory of life governance and management? Does this differ across groups—e.g., men and women, elders and young people, ethnic minorities or language groups?
- Does our community maintain documentation about our territory of life, including governance and management practices?
- Do community members have access to information about our territory of life, including any financial accounting?
Leadership and responsibility
- Is our territory of life governance institution energetic, committed, impartial, courageous? Does it embody other culturally important values?
- Are there strong and committed leaders or ‘champions’ of our territory of life within our community?
- Are these leaders able to inspire commitment and involvement across our community?
Performance and learning
- Is the territory of life well conserved, with its ecological health maintained or improving?
- Are threats and opportunities recognised and responded to in equitable and effective ways?
- Does the territory of life contribute to local sustainable livelihoods?
- Does it contribute to maintaining the cultural heritage and pride of the community?
- Does it contribute to the community’s self-determination and the enjoyment of collective rights and responsibilities?
- Are both historical and new knowledge and learning incorporated into the vision and decisions about the territory of life?