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Participatory generation of sustainability indicators in a natural protected area of Mexico

Santana-Medina N., Franco-Maass S., Sánchez-Vera E., Imbernon J., Nava-Bernal G.. 2013. Ecological Indicators, 25 : p. 1-9.

DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2012.09.002

Since the Rio Declaration in 1992, international institutions, governments and NGOs have promoted sustainability indicators as a tool for providing policy mechanisms that dictate development decision-making. The expert approach, also known as reductionist, has been the most used in the processes of sustainability evaluation; this approach has been criticized for its lack of holistic vision to evaluate a system. A participatory approach has been promoted in order to counteract this type of limitation. This paper presents a case study of a participatory assessment of sustainability in a local community inside a natural protected area; its objective is to attempt to answer if, from local knowledge, is it possible to generate a sustainability local assessment system. The process included the active participation of the inhabitants of Agua Blanca community, located within the Nevado de Toluca National Park (NTNP) in Mexico's central highlands. A framework was used to identify and select sustainability indicators, which was divided into four phases: the description of the system, the identification of the sustainability objectives, the selection of indicators, and the measurement of the progress toward the sustainability objectives. As a result, 64 indicators were identified, which were classified into three pillars of sustainability and its interactions. The participatory approach aided in the evaluation of diverse elements within the system, without limiting itself to one element or dimension of sustainability in particular. Most of the indicators corresponded to the environmental dimension of sustainability, which reflects the level of interaction the community has with its environment. The indicators proposed by villagers, as a whole, were not considered technically appropriate; therefore the need for a selection indicator process was reaffirmed. The process described here is an opportunity to strengthen the self-organization of the communities, reinforce local management, and contribute to the generation of mechanisms of cooperation and processes of co-management of the natural protected areas.

Mots-clés : développement durable; zone protegée; parc national; participation communautaire; connaissance indigène; sociologie; Étude de cas; approches participatives; mexique

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