Academic Shares Ideas on Network Governance for Sustainable Livelihoods at International Conference

Governance and the effectiveness of institutional configuration for enhanced landscape stewardship, was the focus of a presentation delivered by UKZN’s Professor Betty Mubangizi at the 8th World Conference on Ecological Restoration in Cape Town.

Mubangizi is the NRF-DST Research Chair in Sustainable Local (rural) Livelihoods based in the School of Management, IT and Governance.

‘This year’s conference theme of Restoring Land, Water and Community Resilience was significant for the ideals of my Research Chair and particularly so for the Matatiele region where my students and I have ongoing research projects on various aspects of governance and sustainable livelihoods,’ said Mubangizi.

The annual conference was jointly hosted by the Water Research Commission and the Society for Ecological Restoration (SER). Based in the United States, the SER is a conservation organisation whose mission is to advance the science, practice and policy of ecological restoration to sustain biodiversity, improve resilience in a changing climate, and re-establish an ecologically healthy relationship between nature and culture.

The workshop, during which Mubangizi shared her experiences on governance and sustainable livelihoods, was organised under the banner of the uMzimvubu Six-Year Catchment Partnership Programme (UCPP) which Mubangizi joined at the beginning of this year.

The programme is a civil society-driven collaboration of state, NGO, communal and private sector role players, with a common vision of restoring the watershed and improving the capacity of the catchment to provide a wide range of ecosystem services to sustain livelihoods and build resilience of local and downstream rural communities.

Mubangizi’s presentation focused on ‘good governance being an important aspect of ecological restoration as is an understanding of the various actors in the network of stakeholders and how their activities can be monitored in contributing to the overall objectives of the network.

‘The research being carried out under my Chair will go a long way towards increasing our understanding of the working relations between communities, their municipalities and other local actors and how these relations can be strengthened, monitored and communicated to enhance sustainable rural livelihoods,’ said Mubangizi.

Words: Lungile Ngubelanga
Photograph: Supplied