Identifying how the interests of underrepresented or other marginalized groups are part of the situation is essential. For instance, women are often at the forefront of natural resource management in developing countries, but are frequently excluded from decision-making processes. Low-income groups are often the most dependent on natural resources, and they may also face the brunt of environmental pollution, including in developed countries. Not including the interests of these groups can create an incomplete understanding of drivers, or root causes of conservation challenges and can create unintended consequences of well-intended conservation actions.
When engaging with stakeholders to gain a better understanding of the primary interests for nature and people, seek disaggregated evidence by gender and for other vulnerable populations. Inquire about different ways in which the natural resources are used or impact groups of people, and differences in the human well-being factors, as well as any relevant or emerging challenges regarding equity. Equity is critical to consider when collecting data, as it helps with assessing primary interests, building accurate results chains, understanding possible unintended consequences, and how to gain buy-in and avoid harm. For more background on why gender equity is important, as well as some examples of how to address it, see TNC’s Gender Equity Statement.
Be aware of, and avoid action based on, unconscious bias. Unconscious biases are human – we all have them. However, reducing such biases and avoiding acting on them is important. Accurate information can replace stereotypes absorbed earlier. Slowing down to notice a gut reaction, a judgment, an assumption, putting these reactions aside, then responding to the individual or group, can help. Obtaining accurate data and questioning assumptions is crucial to help you understand the primary interests for people and nature. You can use these Four Questions to help yourself catch bias and deflect it.