Students:Environmental NGO group instructions

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Background information: what the landscape means for us

The surrounding landscape above all an environment with certain qualities that should be preserved.

We have to rethink its functions – build on (selected) scientific and local knowledge and experiences, take into account natural conditions and land use from a historical perspective, and find a way forward.

We are able to envisage an “ideal landscape model” that takes into account tradition and development and implement it, or rather push for implementation.

Who we are

We are different people with common interests – wanting to preserve nature and the environment with regard to its various components: air, water quality, soil degradation, biodiversity,… We know what is best alternative to development, or are able to create a vision of it, support it with arguments etc. We build on democratic principles of inclusive dialogue with all stakeholders and use legal instruments such as EIA to express and enforce our points of view; information flows from and to us are very open. We use sophisticated a strategy and tactics and do not publicize all of our plans. In the case that we are not heard we use quite radical means of discussion: demonstrations, protests, lawsuits,… We speak on behalf of those groups that are not part of the policy system (not voting): children, non-humans and nature as such.

What we want

Somebody might say that we are rather idealistic, but we think that ideals are the prime movers of society. We want to have the possibility to gather, discuss, express our thoughts, and be heard by the general public and policy makers. In a word: we want to make our visions happen at almost any cost.

What do we need to explore (potential themes for dialogue with local stakeholders)

Although we sometimes “know best”, we still need input from the others: scientists would tell us about independent analyses (do they support or undermine our conclusions?), local people might not be happy to (platonically) live in an “ideal state” and so we need to know their standpoint, tourists might imagine different aesthetics from the purely natural one, regional government has probably other priorities. The mining company is our enemy and we need to uncover their “greenwashing” methods.

Demands towards the other groups

  • Local residents – basically they might support our activities that are concerned with good environment (and hence living conditions), and we we want them to be informed and engaged. On the other hand, they sometimes perceive our demands as restricting their economic interests.
  • The mining company – as they are our enemies, all we need is as much information from them as possible. There are barely any grounds on which we could agree, but if they follow all the regulations correctly we have no right to make claims against them.
  • Tourists – we know they are needed for the economic benefit of the region but their environmental impact cannot be disregarded. They usually support environmentally friendly solutions as (or only if) these appear to be more aesthetic.
  • Scientists – an important group for us. They have no private interests in the region and their objective arguments might be used to support our positions in the negotiation process. We need to be able to ask them the right questions (answerable scientifically) and interpret them correctly (otherwise they feel manipulated).
  • Regional government – we expect them to pay attention to our interests in making a development strategy. We want to know (about what’s going on), be involved (in decision making), and we are able to attend all important meetings in our spare time. Our aim is to have an influence on all strategic decisions that are approved on this level of decision-making.

What we are offering

We are able to design and actively support long term visions which is often an aspect missing in the decision making process. We enter into all of the democratic dialogue procedures and show whether the process is transparent or might be corrupted. Even if we are radical, we might raise topics and issues that would otherwise be ignored.

Tasks for the group

Compile accessible information about the region from the perspective of the most pressing environmental problems – text: 2 pages long that provides a framework, a kind of “problems and our position” statement based on facts

Receive input from local people – you should question those you meet during the lectures, visits and excursions, or in normal conversation when you meet somebody relevant “in the street”. Concentrate on those representatives of real stakeholders that could provide you with some ideas about alternative (not mainstream economic) solutions.

Use “value neutral” information from diverse sources when preparing your SWOT analysis of the current situation (natural conditions, environmental problems and their analysis, policy, institutions, existing strategies on regional as well as state level,…) – identify positives, negatives, risks, opportunities from your point of view.

Using the outcome of the SWOT, express your interests clearly (with regard to the issues relevant for the current policy debate). Your own position could be based on the opinions of the local activists you interviewed on various occasions. Your interests might be oriented toward different thematic issues. However, you have to agree within the group on a list of priorities for future development.

Develop your arguments for supporting your realistic demands and future visions, and identify an area for negotiation with other groups: your positions should be defended against those of other groups; you should identify interests which you could occasionally compromise on.

On this basis, develop a strategy for defending your standpoints on environmental problems within regional development that you will use against the other interest groups, identify potential conflicts, and prepare yourself for the final negotiation & conflict resolution process!

Creative Commons Author: Jana Dlouhá. This article was published under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. How to cite the article: Jana Dlouhá. (9. 08. 2022). Students:Environmental NGO group instructions. VCSEWiki. Retrieved 09:58 9. 08. 2022) from: <>.