The University of Eastern Finland (UEF) is collaborating with the College of Business Education (CBE) and Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) to execute a four-year MAKUTANO research project in the Southern Highlands of Tanzania. On August, 17-21, 2020, UEF organized an online course on “Environmental Collaboration and Conflict Resolution” which brought together over 40 participants from over 15 counties all around the globe. The participants come from wide range of countries including Finland, Germany, Russia, Mongolia, USA, Mexico, Tanzania, and Nigeria. Dr. Ubaldus Tumaini, the postdoctoral researcher in the MAKUTANO research project, participated in this five-day course. Professor Edda Tandi Lwoga is one the project PIs representing CBE.
The course sought to further understanding of environmental conflicts and the possibilities of collaboration and mitigation of conflicts through collaborative governance, mediation, and participatory methods. The course was both academic and practice driven.
The responsible teachers from the University of Eastern Finland, Professors Irmeli Mustalahti and Lasse Peltonen at the Department of Geographical and Historical Studies, emphasised that environmental experts are required increasingly to identify, analyse, and mediate conflicts. These skills should be widely taught to various professionals.
“Skills of collaboration and mediation should be considered as part of civic education and their teaching should be emphasised similarly to first aid skills”, says Mustalahti.
During the course, participants presented their experience of the social conflicts that they have encountered in the governance of natural resources. The training provided international level research-based methods for analysing and mediating environmental conflicts. Conflict situations from Finland, Russia, USA, Indonesia, Nigeria, Tanzania, Mexico, and Mozambique were discussed during the course workshops.
“The course is really informative, the approaches being highlighted by the teachers are vital for my role in the Tanzanian commercial forestry sector as an intermediary between local actors, government institutions and the private sector. Collaborative governance may be the solution to most of the challenges we are facing in the sector. I hope that I can apply these methods through people-public-private dialogues and partnerships”, highlights Kikolo R. Mwakasungula, one of the course attendees from the African Forestry organisation.
The international teachers included Steve Greenwood and Laurel Singer from the National Policy Consensus Center (NPCC), Portland State University, USA. One of the instructors was Jonna Kangasoja from Akordi, a company specialising in environmental conflict resolution. PhD students directed study groups concentrating on analysing conflicts from their case study countries. The course coordinator was Emma Luoma, a doctoral student from the University of Eastern Finland.
“In an international course, students as well as teachers learn from each other’s experiences. This is an excellent opportunity for a multi-voiced and critical discussion of environmental conflict and collaborative governance models”, Luoma said.
The course organisers included individuals from the ALL-YOUTH, CORE and MAKUTANO research projects. ALL-YOUTH explores the capabilities of young people and the obstacles that hamper their engagement with society, as well as the visions of youth regarding a sustainable future, growth, and well-being. CORE builds on notions of interdependence and collaborative governance as responses to complex societal problems, and seeks practices for creating fair, efficient, and knowledge-based solutions to complex problems related to the environment and use of natural resources. ALL-YOUTH and CORE are funded by the Finnish Strategic Research Council (SRC). MAKUTANO is funded by the Develop Academy Programme (2019-2022), which is jointly supported by the Academy of Finland and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. The aim of the action research is to gain an understanding of Tanzania’s forest governance transformation.
Prior courses have been held at the University of Eastern Finland, as well as in Denmark and in Mexico with collaborative organisations and universities. The next course in the series will be organised in Tanzania by the MAKUTANO research project in 2021. During 2018-2019, CORE organised a “Collaborative Public Manager” training programme for public sector officials in Finland.
The course website: https://www3.uef.fi/en/web/summerschool/environmental-collaboration-and-conflict-resolution
For more information:
Dr. Ubaldus Tumaini, u.tumaini[at]cbe.ac.tz, tel: +255 222 150 177.