"Transformative Social Change and Resource Governance in the Gulf of Guinea Countries and Beyond"

A comapartive Analysis of South Africa, DR Congo, Angola, Côte d'Ivoire, Nigeria and Indonesia

March 16 to 19, 2015 / Johannesburg (South Africa) | Organized by Farafina Instute & Technische Universität München

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Picture: ISSC-Gulf of Guinea Research Group in Johannesburg, March 2015

The ISSC-Gulf of Guinea Research Group (hereafter ISSC-GGRG) is addressing the question of transformative change and resource governance in resource-rich countries of the gulf of Guinea and beyond. Clarity on what ISSC-GGRG means by "transformative social change and resource governance and the question of what and how transformative social change happens in resource-rich countries of the gulf of Guinea and beyond remains elusive and relatively unexplored. This workshop intends to engage with this crucial issue.
The aim of this workshop was to articulate together our understanding of "transformative social change", present cased studies related to resource governance topics and discuss the content of the research proposal to be submitted.
Main Project Partners: Farafina Instute/Germany, Technische Universität München/Germany, University of the Witwatersrand/South Africa, Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt/Nigeria; Agostinho Neto University, Luanda/Angola; Université Catholique de Bukavu, Bukavu/DR. Congo ; Université Alassane Ouattara, Bouake/Côte d'Ivoire; University of Basel, Centre for African Studies, Basel/Zwisserland; The University of the West Indies, St Augustine/Trinidad & Tobago; Instituto Terra de Preservacao Ambiental (ITPA)/Brazil; Geospatial Centre, Local Government Institute, Accra/Ghana; National Land Agency/Indonesia.

Funding institutions
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Goals and objectives, intended outcomes
The goal of the research is to understand the link between natural resource governance and transformative social change, and to describe their trajectories in the Gulf of Guinea and beyond. The research also aims at identifying various transformative social change mediums and governance models that can improve current situations in the targeted areas. The objectives include:
• Identifying and examining the needs, obstacles, challenges, opportunities and trajectories for transformative social change and natural resource governance across the different regions
• Understanding the way in which institutions in resource rich countries are gendered, and how control over, and exclusion from, key natural resources results in specific forms of patriarchal power and dominance
• Investigating what and how transformative social change happens
• Exploring stakeholders' perception of social equality, justice and environmental risks in. This includes also tracking changes and transformations in their perception and attitude towards sustainability
• Investigating stakeholders' natural resource governance practices and strategies. This includes also changes in governance practices and adaptation strategies

Research questions
In achieving the goal and objectives of the research, the research investigates the following questions:
1) To what extent do the prevailing practices of natural resource governance in resource-rich countries in the Gulf of Guinea and beyond shape trajectories of transformative social change?
2) How and under which circumstances, can transformative social change happen and which suitable mechanisms and processes are needed to advance transformations toward sustainability?
3) What are the drivers and who are the agents of transformative social changes and how do they interact with each other?
4) How these competitions and interactions are played out and resolved in the absence of an adequate governance framework and to what extent this influences or shapes trajectories of transformative change?
5) How do interacting stakeholders' perception of social equality, gendered power, justice, and environmental risks, inform resource governance practices and influence attitudes toward transformative social change
6) What do we know about local narratives of crises/conflicts and to what extent do they frame responses to crises/conflicts
7) How do crisis responses shape processes of transformative social changes?

Moreover, the project will offer guidance on how to use the available resources in a more sustainable manner, ensuring better and more equitable returns to people while at the same time minimizing the negative effects on the environment with spillover effects on global scale and reducing the risk of social conflicts. Hence, understanding what, how and why transformative social change happens, and what the most likely drivers are in the case studies, would be really beneficial in trying to steer or stimulate this process.

Research approaches
The proposed project will be mainly problem-driven, as opposed to method-driven. The implication is that methods will be chosen solely by how well they can help us analyze the problem as described above. A second implication of the problem-driven approach is that various methods will be used since the topic of the project entails various aspects that cannot be addressed with a single type of method.
However, as we are addressing transformative dynamics in specific communities located in countries involved in the research, we will use transformative mixed methods strategies (Mertens, 2005) in most of the cases studies. The principal advantage of using that method is that it allows for the qualitative dialogue needed throughout the research project, as well as the collection of quantitative data. Moreover, transformative mixed method allows local community members to be involved at the beginning, throughout, and at the end of each research study in the data collection decisions and provides a depth of understanding of the cultural values and practices in the case studies. It also facilitate the building of trust to obtain valid data from various groups while allowing a close link between the data collection process and concrete societal action aiming to generate transformative social change. The goal is to have transformative applied research that increases the academic value of the proposed research while ensuring the probability of the success of the proposed interventions resulting from the findings of the research.
In that regard, the transformative knowledge networks will create a unique data-set that contains precise information about existing transformative social change and resource governance practices in the respective case studies. This will result in a new set of data that has hardly been systematized before and will be made freely available making it possible to all scholars involved in the transformative knowledge network to use them for comparative inventory of situations on the cases studies.

Additional information