THE LEARNING INSTITUTE
Founded in 2005, The Learning Institute (LI) is a non-profit, non-political Cambodian organization working with a wide range of civil society, public and private sector organizations to effectively contribute to the sustainable management of natural resources to the rural landscape of the country.
Since its inception, LI has worked in 19 Provinces of Cambodia, supporting rural communities who depend on natural resources for their livelihoods – across agriculture, forestry, and fisheries. It engages local stakeholders, both community members and government authorities, as participants in Action Research projects based on Landscape Approach principles*, to develop more collaborative, integrated and sustainable Natural Resource Management (NRM) in Cambodia.
The Learning Institute also believes that gender equity is integral to poverty reduction and the achievement of long-term sustainable and fair use of natural resources. Effective development (poverty reduction/livelihoods/food security) requires an awareness of, and response to, the ways in which gender relationships influence how women and men, girls and boys participate in, and are affected by, the process of development.
Improving natural resource management practices and protecting the environment require reducing poverty and achieving livelihood and food security among rural women and men. That goal will not be reached unless women are included in the conversation. Because of gender-differentiated roles and responsibilities in natural resources management, interventions must address the specific needs and opportunities of rural women and men, particularly the poorest, to reduce inequalities, stimulate growth, and reverse environmental/resource degradation.
LI has been instrumental in facilitating natural resource co-management models through projects aimed at more sustainable NRM, securing livelihoods and empowering local communities as co-researchers and management actors, through adaptive capacity building and mechanisms for equitable benefit-sharing, with a focus on the most vulnerable groups and individuals.
LI also publishes and shares research project outcomes at sub-national, national and international levels, for evidence-based advocacy and policy reform.
*more on the landscape approach principles below
The ‘ecosystem’ or ‘landscape’ approach differs from more traditional sectoral and project-based approaches – it provides a conceptual framework to address this complex web of social, economic, and environmental objectives, and to manage the ‘trade-offs’ entailed by efforts to simultaneously address conservation and development objectives – with an emphasis on identifying obstacles at institutional and governance levels.
‘Landscape’ here refers to more than the physical space of a resource area; the concept invokes a sphere of interaction between the natural and human systems. It is best described as a human-centred approach, applied at ‘landscape scales’ – taking into account the range of economic, cultural, social, and political drivers of a given context, and stakeholders from the most vulnerable of local communities to policy-makers.
Its principles emphasize adaptive management and broad stakeholder involvement in achieving sustainable and just outcomes in this competitive environment. The quality of decision-making is held to be a function of the process by which the decision is reached, and that the achievement of multiple objectives requires an ongoing cycle of engagement, negotiation, learning, adaptation, and improvement.