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The role of communication

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Effective communication with people is vital for the conservation of biodiversity because the loss of biodiversity is often caused by humans. Planning for conservation requires managing communication to gain the commitment and cooperation of people who use, have an impact on, or conserve biodiversity. This is particularly relevant in South and Southeast Asia, since many countries have developed or are developing National Biodiversity Strategies and Plans. All countries have adopted consultative processes, although these differ in extent and nature. None of the countries have used strategically planned communication activities to their full potential to support the preparation, presentation and implementation of NBSAPs. Overall, communication efforts have been ad hoc; as a result, most NBSAPs lack the support from government and various sectors that is needed for success.

There are two common assumptions: that awareness about biodiversity issues ensures conservation action and commitment; and that the public will readily accept biodiversity plans if they are promoted through strong communication programs. This is not usually the case, however, due to poor communication planning in all phases of plan preparation and implementation.

Using communication effectively in NBSAPs requires better analysis of the issues and the required remedies, better understanding of the target groups, a clear understanding of the communication objectives, and the identification of appropriate means and media for consultative processes and communication products. Communication also needs to be seen as more than mere information transfer or marketing and promotion, and communicators have to face the challenge of dealing with complex biodiversity issues in varied circumstances and audiences.

Authors: Jinie Dela, Wendy Goldstein and Dhunmai Cowasjee

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