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Making capacity building meaningful: A framework for strategic action

  • Year: 2008
  • Author: Robins, L
  • Journal Name: Environmental Management
  • Journal Number: Vol.42, No.5
  • Country: Australia

This paper aims to give practical meaning to 'capacity building' through (a) identifying a suite of practical measures, such as mentoring or best practice guidelines, that have been shown to or are considered to build human, social, institutional, and economic capital; (b) placing these measures within a broader systems framework; and (c) exploring stakeholder feedback on specific measures to inform framework implementation. The 29 measures described provide actors, whether government or nongovernment, with a suite of practical investment choices for building capacity. These measures are then clustered into eight groups according to their primary purpose and placed within a systems framework. The framework provides a tool for actors with responsibilities for or an interest in capacity building to inform more holistic and strategic targeting of effort and investment. Stakeholder feedback gathered through surveys and workshops is subsequently reported to further inform implementation of specific measures within the framework's eight groupings. The framework presented may be built upon through the identification and inclusion of further capacity building measures. The research is conducted within the context of decentralized governance arrangements for natural resource management (NRM), with specific focus on Australia's recently formalized 56 NRM regions and their community-based governing boards as an informative arena of learning. Application of the framework is explored in the Australian setting through the identification and comparison of measures supported and most preferred by four major stakeholder groups, namely board members, regional NRM organization staff, policy/research interests, and Indigenous interests. The research also examines stakeholder perceptions of capacity issues, and whether these issues are likely to be addressed through implementing their preferred measures.

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