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Activating change on environmental governance through performance-based methods

Professor Julia Martin-Ortega, Earth and Environment

Performing Change

Value judgements of those involved in environmental governance are rarely discussed and shared amongst those most affected by environmental management decisions. Following a successful Forum Theatre (FT) trial held in Mexico City in June 2018 with environmental professionals, PerformingChange uses FT to enable rural communities in Chiapas (Mexico) to engage in deeper reflections on the benefits and risks of using ecosystem services (ES)-based framings in environmental management. FT a performance-based approach to generate public debate about issues that directly affect communities. By training local collaborators, the forum enables people to identify critical issues and activate different solutions or responses. This cultivates shared value frames and emotions, and creates debate about distribution of power in environmental policy. It transforms academic debates in real community debates.

FT provides alternative means of communicating which is particularly relevant in the context of marginalised communities, whose active participation in environmental decision-making is hampered by inequalities, powerlessness, illiteracy and poverty, while their livelihoods depend very directly on natural resources. Performing Change thus generates impact by activating dialogue and developing critical conversations about nature conservation and environmental management by those most affected by it, setting the ground for longer-term societal transformations.

Professor Julia Martin-Ortega can be contacted by email: