It was decided to organise a side event at the Vth International Congress on Biodiversity of the Guiana Shield, which was held in Florencia (Colombia), as it was important to seize the opportunity of this Congress and the presence of relevant stakeholders of the Guiana Shield at this meeting to share experiences and lessons learned on programs being carried out in the region on participatory science in the Amazonian environment.
The main objective was to identify the challenges faced by each country in terms of participatory science for the sustainable management of natural resources in their Protected Areas.
What are the on-going projects in or around the Protected Areas that involved participatory sciences? How to bring about meaningful engagement of local communities in science and management of these areas? How to ensure access benefit sharing? What are the opportunities for collaborating on the thematic area? Those were the major questions addressed to the participants of this event.
A participatory method was used to answer these various questions. The participants were divided into small groups and took turn in answering the questions on the posters. Most of the on-going projects already involved local communities and national park systems of the countries concerned. The impacts of these programs were to raised awareness on resources use and sustainable development. They also had a positive impact on capacity building. Through this process, the participants identified some tips that are effective to involve local communities in participatory science program. These are to adapt the methodologies to the communities: use of simple languages and/or local languages and integrate traditional knowledge. Involving the communities at the very beginning and at all levels of the program is also a way to engage them sustainably, as well as training and creating job opportunities around these programs.
Regarding the Access Benefit Sharing protocol of each country of the Guiana Shield, it varies from one country to another: prior consultation takes place in some while in others, the procedures and laws are in revision. Finally, the participants pointed out several opportunities for collaboration on participatory sciences in the protected areas of the Guiana Shield. They consist in exchange of experts between and among countries, involving universities from border regions in collaborative projects and in a common forum of discussion where shareholders and scientists can exchange experiences.