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South-South Exchanges Enhance Resource Management and Biodiversity Conservation at Various Scales


International conservation organisations have invested considerable resources in fostering biodiversity conservation
programs in the humid tropics, the most biologically diverse areas on earth. Recent approaches to conservation have
centered on integrated conservation and development projects and participatory resource management programs,
co-managed between governments and local communities. But these programs have had only mixed success and
often suffer from insuffi cient quantity or quality of participation by local communities. We pose that participatory
resource management is more likely to succeed when community members, 1) gain a global perspective on how
their social, economic and environmental conditions compare with peer communities in other similar areas of the
world, and thus better understand issues of relative scarcity and the benefi ts of sustainable resource management,
and 2) engage as decision-makers at every stage of the conservation process up to refl ective program evaluation.
This paper examines the role of South-South exchanges as a tool to achieve these intermediate goals that ultimately
foster more effective and participatory conservation and support sustainable local livelihoods. The data are
extracted from the initiatives of the authors in two different environments—marine and coastal communities in
Central America and the Caribbean, and lowland rainforest communities in the western Amazon of South America.
We conclude that the exchanges are effective ways to build stakeholder comprehension about, and meaningful
engagement in, resource management. South-South exchanges may also help build multi-local coalitions from
various remote areas that together support biodiversity conservation at regional and global scales.