Our Approach and Methods

Equitable Earth Initiative pursues its mission through five interconnected types of activities.

Applied Research

Our approach is to promote learning across levels, so that decision-makers who work in national and international processes can learn directly from what is happening at the grassroots.  This includes action research as we work alongside communities to learn with them.  Although Equitable Earth Initiative is not focused on implementation of development projects in communities, our commitment to action research means that we sometimes become involved in implementation of environmental and development activities at the grassroots through partnerships with communities and implementing organizations.  The role of Equitable Earth Initiative in such cases is to foster learning from activities on the ground by everyone involved and to channel that learning to inform improved policy-making, design of projects and programs, and community action.

Equitable Earth also carries out research that examines the implication of policies, programs and legislation for communities and their relationship with the land, ecosystems and natural resources.  In so doing, we direct explicit attention to questions of collective action, justice and the pursuit of sustainable prosperity.

Mapping and Spatial Analysis

Equitable Earth Initiative draws on spatial approaches, including participatory mapping, geographic information systems and cartography, to generate sound and concrete evidence on social-ecological relationships, land and natural resource use, and ecosystem dynamics relevant to conservation, development planning and decision-making.  We help communities and other stakeholders to use these mapping and spatial analysis in planning and monitoring their development and conservation efforts, building capacity and collective agency in the process.  This work also contributes to our policy engagement, research, and advocacy efforts.

Engagement in Policy Processes

The learning that is generated through our applied research, participation in grassroots processes, and mapping and spatial analysis work is shared through policy development processes.  Equitable Earth Initiative contributes content expertise to policy processes, but also assists local communities and other partners to participate in these processes.

A key component in promoting learning on land and resource governance is opportunities for dialogue and sharing of ideas, concerns and experiences, across sectors and across levels of social organization.  Existing policy development processes are often lacking in this regard.  Equitable Earth Initiative addresses this challenge by facilitating workshops, round tables and other types of interactions that bring together diverse stakeholders to learn from each other and from the action research and policy research mentioned above.


With justice being a pillar of our work, we are also sometimes involved in advocacy on land and natural resource governance policy.  Effective and rigorous research can play a key role here, providing evidence to support just policies that promote equity and sustainable development.  Equitable Earth Initiative is not a lobby group; rather it aims to assist local communities to participate in governance processes and to advocate on behalf of themselves.


Capacity Building

As learning is central to our mission, our research, mapping, policy engagement and advocacy also feed into capacity building activities.  Drawing on insights from collaborative research and policy analysis, our efforts are directed toward developing the capacity of local communities and organizations that work with them for contributing to dialogue and debate on policies and trends that affect them. 

This requires a form of capacity building that is about much more than training; it also requires building the systems and the institutions through which communities and other organizations can strengthen their collective agency and learn to reflect and continually improve themselves.  Equitable Earth Initiative facilitates processes that help to build this kind of self-sustaining capacity development.


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