Large-scale restoration of degraded ecosystems requires significant physical, cultural, financial and political effort. The scientific knowledge and operational methods are well documented from work in a wide range of locations spanning the globe. Melding together the myriad scientific disciplines, funding sources, local practices and political leadership calls for a deft yet determined approach.
In encouraging such cross-cutting projects, EEMP brings to bear both an expansive vision and deep appreciation of the practical exigencies of the sheer physical work required. We are keenly aware when developing projects for incubation of the vast differences in weather, culture, agriculture practice and so forth that characterize working in the Sahel or in Turkey.
While we are not project finance specialists, hydrologists or engineers, our niche in this phase of projects is as mediators and facilitators. We configure key players and structure viable projects. Building from the knowledge base we have already assembled, we know, for example, how important it is to engage not only political leaders, but also local academic organizations. The science is terribly complex and each new project presents both new challenges and new findings that need to be captured and circulated though academic scholarship.
In all projects we practice and document a form of stakeholder engagement known as participatory assessment. This approach requires the broad and deep involvement of local people in every restoration effort. This is not about finding effective ways to sell people so they buy-in. Rather, projects are developed in real participation with local people who take both literal and figurative ownership of projects and project outcomes. The antithesis of classical first-world aid projects that are often driven by a third-world crisis and represent periodic short-term interventions, the EEMP approach forms true partnerships across the global divide for long-term and sustainable success.