ANET’s philosophical leanings are strongly aligned with sustainable use, and we differ from conventional protectionist conservation organisations in that we unapologetically support the rights of local communities to sustainably utilise natural resources and to exercise their cultural rights and worldviews.
For conservation to be embraced and accepted, and for it to be successful, there needs to be social acceptance and buy in. Successful conservation interventions hinge on the active participation of local communities in problem formulation, knowledge generation and decision-making. ANET’s philosophical leanings are strongly aligned with sustainable use, and we differ from conventional protectionist conservation organisations in that we unapologetically support the rights of local communities to sustainably utilise natural resources and to exercise their cultural rights and worldviews. We believe change that is brought about through democratic means and with a focus on equitable governance of natural resources. This can lead to better social and economic outcomes, and incidentally better environmental outcomes.
In addition to indigenous communities whose traditional interactions are strongly linked to marine and terrestrial resources, the islands are home to several settler communities whose diverse backgrounds, histories and origins enable a variety of engagements that are uniquely mediated by their experiences in the islands. Our livelihoods-centred projects with settler communities are aimed at local sustainability, food security and strengthening traditional systems of resource use and governance. They are backgrounded by the understanding that resource dependent communities are typically characterised by close links to land- and sea-scapes, and in most cases, enjoy outdoor lifestyles that are conducive to better consequences for health, fitness and nutritional outcomes. Fishing communities are no exception to this rule, as their livelihoods are tied strongly to marine systems. To build on these positives, we eventually aim to develop place-based rooted models that incorporate sport, nutrition and fitness that ties into conservation.
Keeping in mind current requirements in the Andaman islands, Dakshin and ANET are directly involved with a range of interventions that can be clubbed under the umbrella of SeaChange, our flagship intervention project that cuts across sectors. SeaChange is a sharp departure from conventional approaches to conservation and environmental governance that treat environmental sustainability as standalone goal devoid of its interconnections with social and political drivers. Instead, Dakshin’s recent efforts have been to create models that aim to address multiple linked issues facing coastal communities taking into account their interaction with other sectors like health, education, etc. We uses a trans-local approach where its interventions are locally embedded and context specific, and at the same time spatially networked across sites, to be scalable. In addition, this integrative and holistic approach breaks the traditional silos of different sectors such as environment, education and health using both traditional (e.g. livelihood) and novel (e.g. sports and art) entry points. The goal of this scalable, local model of holistic development is characterised by three synergistic processes: (1) the creation of cross-sectoral and context specific models; (2) strengthening local capacity and participatory governance, and (2) enabling scalability through partnerships, networks and appropriate policy.