♣ Creating and capitalizing on local resources

"♣": Estrategias específicas empleadas por los estudios de caso para incrementar su nivel de auto-sustentabilidad.Pueden estar en inglés o español. Por favor usa el traductor del menú lateral 

"♣": Specific strategies used by the case studies to increase their degree of self-sustainability.They might be in English or in Spanish. Please use the side menu translator
  • Up until now, they help selling each other’s goods, and coordinate lodging, food, and a quite rich entertainment offer for visitors, taking advantage of the varied resourcesand landscapes of each community – visits to the volcano, bird watching, hiking, son jarocho music events, horseback riding, campfires, observation hikes to the core area of the reserve, boat rides with visit to the archaeological site of Las Margaritas, etc.
  • In 1997 several communities joined together to form the Community Ecotourism Network of the Tuxtlas S.C. (RECT, its Spanish acronym). This legal constitution would allow them to obtain government funds to promote a joint ecotourism project in the region. RECT has since allowed the communities to make new use of their natural and cultural resources, without threatening their sustainability and adjusting to growing governmental restrictions.
  • Lago El Apompal is an initiative of community peasant ecotourism, an alternative development model adopted by several communities in the jungle region of Los Tuxtlas. The model aims to solve their economic needs without threatening the sustainability of local natural resources.
  • Clearly, the region does not lack attributes to implement a successful model for conservation, research, education, cultural exchange and tourism.
  • UNESCO Global Geoparks seek to promote the global agenda for sustainable development by:
    • ensuring that local communities have the opportunity to take advantage of their resources in a sustainable manner (tourism, products)
  • The UNESCO seal is not accompanied by financing, so it does not prohibit economic activity inside the park, as long as it complies with local regulations and discourages unsustainable trade of local geological products.
  • Even if constituted as a non-profit organization, the initiative was forced a few years ago to change its strategy of financial self-sustainability based on donations because they were tedious and difficult to obtain. Instead, it formulated mechanisms to diversify its sources of income: Sustainable development courses were prepared with a duration of 4 weeks (how to take care of the forest, animal handling, etc). The program of teaching Spanish for foreigners was created. The visit of schools and tourists was encouraged. Organizations and companies were invited to make their retreats on the farm. The production of local inputs (milk, eggs, etc.) was stimulated. Ways were looked for to take advantage of local resources (eg use of the fertilizer of the animals for the maintenance of the orchards). Bio-construction techniques were learned, which allowed to save some expenses, etc. Today, according to one of the current leaders of the initiative interviewed, the profits generated by the courses, added to the quotas contributed by the volunteers and tourists to cover the expenses of their stay, are enough to keep the project afloat.
  • The farm project is sustainable also because it benefits several actors. Researchers, students, organizations, farmers, businessmen and officials learn from its experience or take advantage of it to experiment alternatives. Participating citizens (usually middle class) have access to organic products at competitive prices, a place of rest and closeness to nature that they can share with their children, and a community dynamic in which they share their products, learn recipes, etc. The local communities benefit from the payment of the rent of the lands – whose rights they keep -, from the hiring of workers in the farm, from the products that they sell to it, and from the training that the farm offers them to pack and sell the leftover products of their household-farming production (seasonal fruits for example) and to recover and improve their cultivation techniques (most of the traditional knowledge has been lost with the urbanization process).
  • Both the farming and animal care processes use ecological and novel technologies, designed from both the knowledge that local farmers still use to assist in the care of the rented lands, and from the results of the research carried out there, conducted by partner universities – who either investigate the model of the farm, or use it as a pilot area for the exploration and implementation of innovative alternative technologies and for the formation of a talent pool. The participation of all these actors then allows the farm and its processes to be always monitored and in the process of innovation.

  • In 2006, a group of these migrants founded [This/the initiative]. This non-governmental organization created a toll-free hotline service that migrants from the cities of Beijing, Wuhan and Suzhou can call to request counseling in urgent and immediate situations — eg. help to get a job, to resolve legal disputes with their contractors, to defend their social and political rights, to solve health problems, etc. [This/the initiative] offers this advice thanks to the collaboration of a staff of around 10 people and more than 300 volunteers, all of them ex-migrants.

  • At the beginning of the project, the team devoted itself to distributing pamphlets in different neighbourhoods of the capital city to find potential buyer partners. But the strategy did not work because people lacked a personal connection with them and therefore of trust or interest in their project. Soon the researchers decided to redirect their efforts to their most immediate social networks. Thus, with the help of colleagues, friends and even family members, little by little they consolidated a network of consumers (friends and friends of friends) who are committed to supporting the project and providing feedback, and whose network has taken its own rhythm of growth.

  • Creating and capitalizing on the local resources, which could be helped by:
      •  Fostering the initiatives’ beneficiaries production of local goods and services through entrepreneurial or cooperative schemes which surpluses can be reinvested in their own communities (and that might be supported with local barter systems)
      •  Creating a parallel for-profit section or even enterprise within the initiative that generates surpluses to be invested on its social objective (e.g. selling consultancy services packages or training workshops based on the initiative’s know-how and particular experience, charging for guided visits to the initiative or the local area, etc.)
      •  Establishing parity funds schemes that capitalize on the local contributions and address funders’ concerns about how the frequent lack of ownership of the programs by the beneficiaries tends to result in their investments being non-sustainable
    •  Systematizing the components, working methodologies and results of the initiatives’ models, showing supporters the effects of their contributions and demonstrating the initiative’s differentiated capacity to make them cost-effective (which would also help in gaining  visibility and thus, further support for the initiative for the settling of new projects).
    • Capitalizing on people’s ownership and empowerment, and making social participation a transversal dimension of the initiative helps in making better use of the local political and financial resources already available, which are needed to sustain the initiatives over time. Fostering them can further help in filling the gaps of the development initiative, and thus, in reducing the need of external support (dependency) — by facilitating that the internal stakeholders share their diverse products, services, and other resources, the need to acquire external funds to cover them is minimized.

    However, increasing people’s participation is difficult especially in contexts where communities are habituated to be passive beneficiaries of public programs and incentives, and/or where their people are divided by socio-economical or, for example, racial barriers.

    To stimulate it, both the [This/the initiative] and the[This/the initiative] are promoting the use of alternative currencies that aim at reducing their communities’ dependency on the peso-based national economy, which is not guaranteeing that resources flow into their localities, pushing their inhabitants to migrate or live in poverty. Currencies that are expected to boost the local economy, promoting the circulation of goods and services which either stopped being produced as a (most probably unintended) consequence of external subsidies, or had no buyers due to the absence of conventional money in the place. Ultimately, the intention of these alternative market systems is to create incentives and means for solidarity and participation among people in order to solve their communities’ problems: defining and addressing what they are lacking and what their members can provide for resolving them. Moreover, they have noted that these non-monetary inputs, which value is backed up by the same goods and services offered by the participant partners, constitute a significant proportion of the resources needed for the implementation of other development programs with the communities.

    • [This/the initiative] , on its side, designs and monitors all of its programs through participatory mapping techniques, by which the community members gather with the members of the organization to draw up, together, a map of their community. During the drawing process, a comprehensive diagnosis is made of local conditions, challenges, conflicts, problems, and priorities. The participatory mapping not only allows the communities to visualize themselves and their situation but to become agents of their own development, by enabling them to identify the resources they have available, define possible strategies to address their interests and needs, and distribute roles — which enhances the programs’ possibilities for sustainability.
    • They have done it by developing structures that give different sectors of their targeted communities the means and opportunity to create awareness of their specific needs and perceptions, and that help covering roles and functions (supervisory, managerial, communicational, etc.) that, as mentioned before, would otherwise require the acquisition of funds to cover them (such as children’s parliaments/governments, village development committees, parents’ organizations, rotatory management commissions that ensure the equitable representation and responsibility of all of the members, etc.)
    • initiatives that already count with a certain degree of local ownership showed us that this can be capitalized if concrete efforts are devoted to track and systematize the value of the services and resources already provided by the communities/stakeholders (creating for example, community contributions inventories). These can help in addressing donors’ concern about the lack of local ownership that they know treats the long term sustainability of their investments, and in facilitating the settling of parity/matching funds mechanisms that take into account the value of these contributions, without compromising beneficiaries’ capacity to negotiate their views and responsibilities.
    • This success has been attributed to the program’s ability to adapt to the particular socio-economic and cultural contexts of the children and their families, which it does by following four main strategies. First, the class schedule will accommodate and change according to the children’s needs — schools operate at night and attendance is flexible. Second, the program integrates the schools within a network of other development programs operated by the organization, that address the diverse necessities of the children and their families, enhancing their capacity to attend school — health services, drinking water, etc. Third, the[This/the initiative] has decentralized the decision-making process (it has created Village Education Committees and a Children’s Parliament!), giving schools the ability to keep relevant and effective for the communities — by taking advantage of their inputs. Fourth, the night schools adopt an intercultural education modality that values not only the mainstream curricula but also local knowledge, resources and skills. These has also helped to make education relevant for children and their families, rather than a curriculum that, by focusing only in the former, would encourage migration to the cities (and, possibly, a life in an urban slum).
    • The[This/the initiative] and its schools program draws heavily on local knowledge and resources in its focus on a sustainable future for the communities served by the schools.
    • Integrating the schools within a network of development programs
    • Besides receiving education, the program students benefit from health services, communication resources, toys, and learning materials provided by other development programs operated by the organization. This includes solar-powered lamps that allow the operation of the schools at night in areas in which there is frequently no electricity grid. Another aspect of the integrated development program sees to the building of rainwater harvesting tanks adjacent to each Night School, which helps to ensure that families in semi-desert areas will still be provided with water by their children, even if they attend school during the hours they would otherwise spend collecting it from wells. The fact that the Night Schools are embedded in a mutually supportive network of initiatives grounded in the[This/the initiative] facilitates attention to the children’s and their families’ diverse and specific needs.
    • This comprehensive model also allows for the sharing of funds among different projects to support one another, and for the shared provision of materials, personnel, training, and infrastructure across the different projects. Some examples of the benefits of this integration are the Field Research Centres’ and Associate Partner Organizations’ roles as meeting points for a Children’s Parliament (a key project in this comprehensive model, which will be shortly introduced), and the fact that many Night Schools’ alumni are incorporated into the[This/the initiative] ’s development projects. Alumni work as, for example, solar engineers, coordinators of craft workshops or of the local early childhood education centres, cooks for the Barefoot College community, or as cultural workers in the community. Others extend the benefits of the program into the mainstream education system at the Siksha Karmi and Siksha Niketa schools. Further examples of this integration among projects lie in the training offered to teachers by the[This/the initiative] ’s Health Centre to identify common health issues in their students, and in the vocational training that the children receive.
    • An important feature of the program is that it is monitored by a Children’s Parliament. The children who are members of this forum, elected every two years by students attending the Night Schools, choose a Prime Minister who works with a student cabinet monitoring the work of the teachers, the functionality of the solar lanterns, the availability of safe drinking water, and the provision of teaching and learning materials. They also encourage children who have dropped out to attend school. The Prime Minister organizes monthly meetings in which the ministers raise any problems in the schools, ask adults for explanations, and prompt solutions. The cabinet is empowered to hire and fire teachers, and to expose cases of corruption. Some Night Schools’ teachers occasionally do not turn up for class, but children in the parliament help to create awareness of the potential problem so that it doesn’t happen very often. The forum clearly also serves to create awareness in the communities about the children’s points of view and needs. The general view is that although some problems might take some time to be solved, the system works. Moreover, “the concept of the Children’s Parliament is integral to the curriculum at the Night Schools. Children attending the Night Schools get to know more about political systems and structures by actually going through the learning process” (x).
    • The families of the program’s children contribute to the program with cash or with donations of teaching aids or learning materials. Parents pay 10% of the cost of the health check-ups provided to the children. These contributions from the families are made in spite of the fact that families need their children’s contribution to the household income, and cannot easily afford to wait ten years for their children to start earning.
    • At a community level, the families’ contribution is even larger. The communities generally provide the buildings for the Night Schools and other activities (such as the Children’s Parliament, fairs, workshops, and meetings), and contribute voluntarily with cash, food, time, or work to the realization of the program. The supervision and management of the program is largely done by Village Education Committees and the Children’s Parliament, both volunteer organizations run by the community. Ultimately, almost the only expenses that are not covered by the community are the teachers’ salaries and some costs for activities that they cannot bear.
    • The extent of this community involvement is also evident in the number of people associated with an extensively decentralized social structure that is integrated with the[This/the initiative] ’s initiatives in this domain: 150 full-time staff, 500 half-time staff, and around 5000 honorary members. This is both important and unusual, given that policy makers and policies are usually very far from implementation sites and beneficiaries.
    • The program’s teachers earn approximately one tenth of a government school teacher’s salary. Although they earn the same rate as other staff at the[This/the initiative] , effectively they teach only part-time, so what they earn means that they amount to little more than volunteer teachers.
    • The communities themselves prepare the teaching and learning materials. Among them, a workshop of disabled people prepares toys made of recyclable materials for the Night Schools, and a carpentry workshop provides them with science toys. Maps and posters displaying the alphabet hang on the walls of the schools. Children frequently need to share the learning materials that are available.
    • The mission of the[This/the initiative] ’s Communications team is worth noting here. Through puppetry, a traditional means in this cultural context of sharing messages with the community, the[This/the initiative] discusses in an interactive manner some of the problems faced by the Night Schools, such as the need for girls’ attendance, the safety of the children, their relationship with their teachers, and so on. In a related vein, the Night Schools hold the annual Balmela Festival to provide feedback to their communities, to reinforce the value of education, and to thank them for their help and participation.
    • The degree of ownership felt by the communities of these projects enhances their trust of the[This/the initiative] and their confidence to send their children to the Night Schools. The opportunity costs of school attendance and community involvement in the projects are compensated by this sense of ownership, which is also a result of a widely decentralized budgeting process. The communities are deeply involved with the program: they manage it, they contribute to it, and they benefit from it.
    • The Parity/Matching Funds Scheme:

    Funding comes from a variety of sources in exchange for an active commitment by the communities who own the forests, to take the necessary actions to ensure that the forests are always kept strictly intact – which means not exploiting them and not allowing anyone else to do so. The funds are used to compensate the communities for revenue lost, resulting from their abstention to economically exploit their forests.

    Some of these funding mechanisms are obtained through parity or matching fund schemes where, in exchange for the communities’ contribution consisting on their commitment to keep the forests intact, entities such as the National Forestry Commission (Mexico) provides 1 Mexican peso for each peso that[This/the initiative] obtains from other financial sources to help the community to achieve the same objective – which is basically to preserve the environmental services that forests provide. Other mechanisms consist of financial contributions on the condition that the said commitment is verifiably met, and that the community engages in undertaking active forest conservation activities.

    Like the National Forestry Commission in Mexico, many institutions are concerned about the lack of direct involvement (ownership) that most development projects have on the part of the beneficiaries. Frequently, beneficiaries’ involvement and ownership of the project demonstrates that the donors’ investment has greater possibilities of surviving and leaving a lasting effect.

    • There are numerous ways in which the program’s local community is already contributing in non-monetary ways to the sustainability of the Night Schools. The degree to which the local community has appropriated the program (as evidenced in their participation in providing management, supervision, infrastructure, funding for activities and materials, etc.) is a crucial point to note, for at least two reasons:

    -It means that almost the only expenses that are not being covered by the community are the teachers’ salaries and some costs for activities that they cannot bear.

    -It means that this initiative already bears the hallmarks of sustainability, given that it is well-known that development interventions are generally successful to the extent that they are appropriated by and integrated into the communities where they are targeted (development interventions are generally seen to fail when project funding ceases or when external project advisers are withdrawn, probably because community ‘take-up’ or ‘buy-in’ has been limited, making the project unsustainable without such community investment and ownership).

    • Recommendations made in the[This/the initiative] Study:

    R1: Make a Community Contributions Inventory enumerating and detailing all contributions provided by families, communities, children, mentioning their monetary value in US dollars (e.g. If the place offered by the community for the school were to be rented instead of simply facilitated, how much should they be receiving for that rent; if the children were charging for their supervisory role how much would they be receiving). Additionally, based on that Inventory, find out the percentages of those contributions to be able to show the donors what percentage of each kind of participation is done by whom.

    R2: Find a Donor that works with the Matching Funds Scheme, or establish it with one of the current donors using the Community Contributions Inventory (referred in R1) to promote an understanding in which for every X amount of dollars that the[This/the initiative] contributes, the Foundation commits to contribute, in return, with 2x or 3x (depending on the established parity). This scheme will give the Foundation the security that if[This/the initiative] stops contributing with x, the Foundation will stop as well. If the[This/the initiative] manages to get a matching fund with a 1 for 1 parity it would be already doubling its budget.

    • inspired by the[This/the initiative] , which has operated from Mexico City since 1996 promoting alternative barter markets (of products and services), local university teachers in 2010 created an alternative market project popularly known as “The[This/the initiative] Project” as a tool to boost the local economy (promoting the circulation of goods which had no buyers due to the absence of conventional money in the place) and reduce external dependence (on resources and on the values from the printing and distribution of economic currency).
    • The Tumin is a voucher that is complementary to the peso, the Mexican currency. It seeks to support family income serving as a means of facilitating the development of an alternative exchange dynamic: the barter system (which actually used to be the traditional exchange system in the region).

    Vouchers are used to exchange goods with value equal to (but not worth) 1 Mexican Peso ($ 0.08 USD approx.), backed up by the goods and services offered by its partners, which are listed in a directory so that its members can compromise to support each other. A coordinating team, which is rotatory (ensuring the equitable representation of and responsibilisation of all of the members) monitors and evaluates the project. It is made up of Commissions (education, communication, etc.) that are in charge of organizing various issues related to the project, ensuring its integrative character.

    • The prototype alternative market model promoted by[This/the initiative] and that inspired the[This/the initiative] Project, comprises, according to Luis Lopezllera’s “Money is not enough, what to do?” Manual (2008), the integration of an alternative economic system that includes at least the following:

    1. The granting of memberships for partners.

    2. The signing of a letter of commitment agreed on the rules of the exchange.

    3. The creation of a user directory based on the planning of a consumer basket (that defines what kind of partners are needed, including foreign partners, if the locals cannot fulfil the need).

    4. The training in person and/or through a brief Operation Manual.

    5. The provision of the barter/exchange vouchers to the partners.

    6. The creation of a regular newsletter that accompanies and strengthens the project.

    7. The creation and distribution of educational and publicizing materials.

    8. The establishment of a promotional team (volunteers).

    9. The organization of regular meetings for the project’s development.

    10. The organization of decisional deliberative assemblies of associated partners (decentralization).

    11. The establishment of cellular stores for the public (that link together, give certainty, and facilitate the buying of products for those who cannot attend the market’s meetings because of logistical problems).

    12. The organization of local fairs, private or public, gatherings, visits, courses, and workshops (introductory lectures and retreats).

    13. The organization of regional or national meetings (with similar networks).

    14. The use of advanced communication and dissemination means.

    15. The procurement of infrastructure and support resources (property for the shop and office, meeting room, exhibition room, furniture, telephone, computer, projector, transportation, support fund, etc.).

    Project promoters do not charge for their services, and neither do they include them in the trading scheme, but themselves participate as partners with the sale of any other items.

    • The Children’s Parliament is itself a model for the exchange of ideas. This could be the basis for the exchange of other valuables (knowledge, things… it would be necessary to define what, from a participatory assessment of what is in the region in terms of credits of trust, alienation. Namely: to go from parliamentarianism to economy with something that replaces money – or complements it – being careful not to replicate the criticized existing schemes).
    • An alternative economic model could complement the[This/the initiative] ‘s initiatives to curb migration and promote autonomy, depending less on foreign aid. Also, it could reinforce the College’s beneficiaries’ organization and participation schemes, including the Night Schools, supporting, for example, the barter of teaching and learning materials, and complementing, perhaps, teachers’ salaries with partial payments in kind or similar measures

    With a well-planned strategy, the introduction of a barter/exchange system with a tool similar to that used in the[This/the initiative] Project could encourage the circulation and benefits obtained from the products currently manufactured by the[This/the initiative] (in general: solar lanterns, sanitary napkins, etc., or by the program in particular: the wooden toys produced by the program’s children, etc.).

    • [This/the initiative] could detect exchangeable value goods (products or services, existing or potential, between members of the[This/the initiative] or its beneficiaries) with which an exchange network can be created to complement, rather than replace, the use of the already scarce rupees circulating in the region, strengthening the social organization and all issues arising from a new economy based on trust and less dependent on the outside.
    • The Sustainable Entrepreneurship Program, for example, implements demonstrative initiatives for resources’ management and the acquisition of legal certifications to increase family income generation, increase food security, and reduce the impact on the environment, as socioeconomic strategic components to improve the quality of life, environmental conservation, and regional development (e.g. the communitarian ecotourism or the crafts production with local forest’s resources).
    • [This/the initiative] works in partnerships with the communities, creating or strengthening local organizations that are independent from[This/the initiative] itself, thus limiting its financial and administrative responsibility and ensuring their autonomy (x).
    • Based on the social technique (mentioned before) called “participatory mapping”,[This/the initiative] makes, altogether with the communities it serves, a diagnosis of local conditions, challenges, problems, and priorities and, based on them, it uses art, games, and communication as means for each of its programs. The participatory mapping not only allows the communities to visualize themselves and their context but to become agents of their own development, and define strategies and roles. The above is particularly important because the local population lacks an entrepreneurial mindset, most probably as a consequence of a governmental intervention that has not been particularly keen to include them in its development programs (x). Although it is not voluntary, the social ownership and participation created with[This/the initiative] ’s participatory methodologies functions as its model’s basis and source of sustainability, “because this way the communities become part of the projects’ developers and not only their beneficiaries” (x).
    • [This/the initiative] also ensures that all its programs are supported by training to form “multiplier” agents, that is, local leaders that can manage and disseminate the programs independently.
    • Articulates different initiatives (e.g. people from the craft program receive tourists from the eco-tourism program and incentivize the territorial management organization; the renewable energy program provides energy to the Telecenters; the education program supports health prevention participative activities and environmental endeavours, etc.)
    • [This/the initiative] ’s Strategies for Scalability

    Not only the vision but also the strategies of the organization intend all to create replicable models of action whose objective is to serve as demonstrative references for the State (not the government) and/or the private sector, so they learn better and cheaper ways for designing and implementing public policies/projects and adopt them.

    X argued that the organization’s mission is to create links between communities and partners from abroad rather than monopolizing the former; meaning that their objective is to create development models that can be further scaled by agents that are capable of implementing and funding them sustainably. Once this mission is achieved, the organization’s aim is to change its role from implementing the programs to creating management capacities in the communities, to oversee their continuous persistence and quality after adopted by either the State or the private sector.

    [This/the initiative] is currently requesting an independent agency’s help to systematize[This/the initiative] ’s intervention model to be able to scale it, providing that it considers itself as a low cost and high impact sustainable development alternative whose construction is based on the know-how gained from more than 20 years of working with marginalized populations in the Amazon.

    In collaboration with[This/the initiative] , Ashoka and McKinsey & Company (2010) made a noteworthy multi-annual strategic plan for scaling-up[This/the initiative] ’s program (hereafter referred as the Strategic Plan) to envisage the perspectives and recommendations to expand[This/the initiative] and achieve, in 5 years, a “community integrated development participative model, with proper socio-environmental technologies, with low cost and high impact, consolidated in all direct attention areas and ready for replication in other regions” (x).

    The Strategic Plan explores the characteristics of[This/the initiative] ’s model and its principal strengths and weaknesses before making some suggestions to the organization – all of them very illustrative of the factors related to its level of self-sustainability.

    It describes the organization’s value chain: the inputs it receives (e.g. financial resources, social demands, human resources, data, and information), the means through which the organization works to create value (e.g. participative processes, democracy, partnerships, strategic planning, trainings, exchanges, inter and multidisciplinary approaches, adaptation of international social technologies into the local context, and methodologies for the strengthening of community groups), and its outputs (e.g. learning and information, trust relationships, reference models for development initiatives, self-esteem, autonomy, social inclusion, influence in public policies, social work, trained professionals).

    The Strategic Plan also evaluates[This/the initiative] ’s strengths (e.g. proper and replicable social technologies, measured benefits, co-management capacity, team’s expertise, knowledge on the region, capacity to propose and adapt, network of partners, visibility and credibility obtained, both locally and abroad), its opportunities (e.g. work in a region with global visibility – the Amazon – network of contacts, scope for gaining scale because of the interest that public administrations have on[This/the initiative] ’s work), its weakness (e.g. spread of energy and resources in too many actions, non-satisfactory working conditions, insufficiency in the system of management and systematization of experiences, little participation of the Associates’ Council), and its challenges (lack of stability in the funding sources, limitedness and lack of flexibility of the resources available for institutional strengthening, lack of appropriateness of national policies for the Amazonian region, Amazonian predatory occupation processes).

    Correspondingly, some of the recommended strategies contained in the Strategic Plan for [This/the initiative]’s sustainability and scalability are:

    • The formation of a network of multipliers.
    • The expansion of communication tools.
    • The inter-institutional exchange of methodological processes of expansion.
    • The transfer, dissemination, and replication of environmental technologies.
    • The cooperation with the public and private sector.
    • The methodological reorientation to ensure a greater interaction with public policies and both public and private institutions, identifying common demands and possible cooperation initiatives, using information technologies for gaining scale.

    To enlarge [This/the initiative]’s reach without compromising its quality, the Strategic Plan recommends dividing the 5 years into 3 stages. During the first one, the areas that are currently intervened are consolidated as a permanent laboratory, its results are more comprehensively systematized, and priority is given to the Institutional Integration (which includes developing its communication means, inter-institutional agreements, methodological exchanges and consultancies, adapted socio-environmental expansion, transference, dissemination, and replication processes).

    During the second stage, the area of dissemination is gradually expanded, starting with[This/the initiative]’s more consolidated social technologies, especially 1) the health initiative – which includes preparatory actions for scalability (systematization of the Basic Attention Model that[This/the initiative] has implemented and is offering now to the new beneficiaries, consultancy services portfolio, prospective of potential regions and actors for the replication of the model, etc.). And, 2) its integrative development practices: also needs preparatory actions. Start with strategies of participative diagnosis and planning (conjuncture, identification of local actors and their perceptions, research about priorities for short, middle, and long terms, sectorial competences, etc.) culminating with a Development Plan with Recommendations for the application in the area of work.

    Finally, stage 3 is suggested to be about articulating the Amazon with other regions around the globe, attracting proactive and strategic connections.

    • the[This/the initiative] could profit by innovating new means to motivate local production and vocational trainings to create long-term economic autonomy both for the people and for the program.
    • the option of creating local entrepreneurship initiatives (like[This/the initiative]s communitarian ecotourism) that provide children with future options for employment, help the organization to disseminate its programs abroad, and function as parallel enterprises that not only incorporate Night Schools’ alumni into the local economy but help in the funding of the Night Schools. If programmed well, this specialized tourism could also help to diversify the Night Schools’ funding sources.
    • [This/the initiative] has established an Area of Institutional Integration that is responsible for linking the organization’s diverse programs and determining institutional articulations and policies (so that they can share their human, infrastructural, financial, and other resources),
    • allowing the creation of a local economy that can become a sustainable source of financial support for the Night Schools.
    •  Un catálogo o directorio de investigadores que facilite a. la identificación de potenciales colaboradores para proyectos específicos; b. La identificación de temas comunes de investigación en la universidad desde diferentes áreas del conocimiento; c. La posterior construcción de mecanismos de colaboración entre éstos. Dicho directorio podría ser alimentado con bases de datos ya existentes, o bien los inventarios de distintas instancias de la universidad
    • The creation of a user directory based on the planning of a consumer basket (that defines what kind of partners are needed, including foreign partners, if the locals cannot fulfil the need).
    • To attract members to the[This/the initiative] Project, the abovementioned coordination identifies people from the community who could enrich the diversity of products and services offered in the association’s directory (x),
    • The above mentioned directory lists all the goods and services whose purchase accepts payment with Tumin (food, carpentry, tourism, education services, etc.). These businesses are also promoted through a magazine. The diversity of the partners is a crucial factor, because it allows a balance between the needs and the supply (says  current coordinator of the[This/the initiative] Project).
    • Un banco de tiempo, que es una versión de lo que se conoce como monedas alternativas, las cuales han sido utilizadas por distintas comunidades u organizaciones como estrategias para regenerar o mejorar las relaciones entre sus miembros; facilitar su intercambio de bienes y servicios y sus dinámicas de cooperación en general; compensar su falta de acceso a dinero convencional; reducir su dependencia a recursos externos; y/o apoyar mecanismos de auto-organización alternativos. El principio básico de los bancos de tiempo, según uno de sus promotores, podría resumirse en que: “Al unirse a un banco de tiempo, las personas están de acuerdo en participar en un sistema que implica ganar y gastar créditos de tiempo. Cuando pasan una hora en una actividad que ayuda a los demás, ellos reciben un crédito de tiempo. Cuando necesitan ayuda de otros, pueden utilizar los créditos de tiempo que han acumulado”(x). Hoy, los bancos de tiempo operan en alrededor de 50 países y su modelo ha sido adaptado para proyectos de salud pública,  de intercambio de conocimientos especializados, de cohesión comunitaria e intercultural, de permacultura, de economía local, de apoyo a grupos vulnerables (como desempleados, jubilados y jóvenes reclusos), e incluso de cooperación entre empresas u otras organizaciones para el aprovechamiento de recursos escasos o sub-utilizados (x). El objetivo común es el uso de la moneda-tiempo como instrumento para motivar y potenciar las relaciones de intercambio entre los miembros de una comunidad u organización, y con ello fortalecer la capacidad de esta última para satisfacer de forma más efectiva sus propias necesidades. Por ello su circulación suele ser administrada por un broker o coordinador de red. Éste documenta, analiza y promueve los intercambios a partir de las ofertas y demandas señaladas por los miembros participantes (generalmente a través de un sitio web).  Como se trata de cubrir necesidades reales, la relación entre oferta y demanda es cuidadosamente vigilada tanto en el primer registro de los participantes, como a lo largo del proceso de conformación de la red de cooperación
    • gracias al apoyo económico y emocional de parientes y amigos, se consiguió el terreno de su sede actual en 1997, en el que ellos mismos construyeron cabañas con materiales biodegradables y reciclados que hoy sirven de albergue a visitantes
    • Un sistema híbrido de energía (generador eólico, celdas solares y corriente eléctrica de la Comisión Federal de Electricidad, CFE). Esta combinación no sólo les permite ahorrar gastos y evitar fallos de abastecimiento (toda vez que la corriente eléctrica es más estable que las energías alternativas y la CFE deduce los excedentes de estas últimas), sino también reducir el impacto ambiental del establecimiento.
    • Un huerto y árboles de manzana que contribuyen, aunque sea mínimamente (aprox. 3%), a la auto-sustentabilidad alimentaria del lugar.
    • El lugar se ubica en una región rural con más de 50% de la población en condición de pobreza y más del 15% en la de extrema pobreza según cifras del 2010. Aunque el objetivo de [Esta/la iniciativa] no es transformar las condiciones socioeconómicas de este lugar, sus creadores están conscientes de que es importante evitar acaparar las oportunidades económicas de la zona. Por ello, y quizá también porque al negocio le resulta más redituable, no les ha interesado ser completamente auto-sustentables en alimentos, los cuales compran en buena parte de sus vecinos. En este mismo sentido se han hecho intentos por establecer colaboraciones con los habitantes de la localidad para beneficio mutuo, ofreciéndoles acceso a su clientela a para vender sus productos o servicios (paseos a caballo, donas, etc), lo cual a ellos conviene también por ser un atractivo para los visitantes. Estas colaboraciones al parecer no han prosperado. Además de aparentes barreras socio-culturales y de género (la dueña del[Esta/la iniciativa] es una mujer y esta es una región conservadora), no se sabe bien qué ha impedido el interés de la comunidad para colaborar con este proyecto.  Incluso en alguna ocasión una pobladora local se negó a recibirles un grupo de gallinas que le ofrecieron a condición de que después le vendieran a [Esta/la iniciativa] sus productos.
    • [Esta/la iniciativa] es un negocio privado iniciado por X en 1960 cuya actividad económica principal, la venta de árboles de navidad, es complementada por una serie de programas que buscan promover la sensibilización y conservación ecológica, la educación ambiental y el desarrollo socioeconómico local. Ello le ha ganado varios premios por su contribución al desarrollo sustentable.

    De aproximadamente 280 de dichas hectáreas se recoge la composta que abona las 120 hectáreas  restante, que producen árboles de navidad (algunos años no les es suficiente y la tienen que comprar)

    Han logrado el 100% de auto-sustentabilidad en agua (en una región conocida por su escasez) gracias al diseño de un sistema de ingeniería hidráulica que permite su máximo aprovechamiento y a la instalación de un sistema de captación de agua de lluvia que es suficiente para abastecer los baños, el agua para beber, y el riego de todo el terreno: “Podríamos vender remanentes pero no lo hacemos”, nos aseguraron

    Para facilitar la venta de los árboles fomentan dos tipos de colaboración que aseguran la integridad del proyecto y con ella su mayor proyección y atractivo sin la necesidad de invertir recursos extra:

    Colaboración estrecha y de mutuo beneficio con otras Sociedades Anónimas (S.A.):

    -Una ofrece paseos de integración, retiros y pláticas a la medida para empresas (Coca Cola, El Metro, Coppel, etc), lo que le sirve a [Esta/la iniciativa] para hacerse de recursos extra y publicidad.

    -Otra, Hacienda X (desde 1999), ofrece alojamiento (hotel y campamentos); visitas culturales al Museo de Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz y al Museo de los Volcanes, al laberinto inglés, al parque de los venados, las águilas y las serpientes acariciables; instalaciones de deportes extremos como la tirolesa. Todos estos servicios y más están disponibles gratuitamente a los clientes de [Esta/la iniciativa]. Además, la Hacienda le envía sus clientes a éste último en visitas diarias a cambio de lo cual éste les regala pequeños árboles, les ofrece pláticas sobre manejo sustentable de los bosques y paseos por el vivero y el bosque.

    -Otra más organiza visitas escolares que son reconocidas por la Secretaría de Educación Pública, pues están diseñadas de manera tal que sirvan para reforzar la enseñanza de materias del plan de estudios como ciencias, educación ambiental (manejo de basura, aprovechamiento del agua de lluvia, etc), civismo, etc. Estas visitas (van como 20 escuelas al día) tienen un costo de$140 pesos por alumno y representan un ingreso extra para [Esta/la iniciativa], quien a cambio obsequia cupones de descuento en árboles de navidad para cada alumno, un árbol pequeño del vivero y un certificado de participación. Aunque esta colaboración le es redituable a [Esta/la iniciativa] en términos financieros y de publicidad, un reto que tiene que vencer para asegurar un mayor impacto de su objetivo de sensibilización ambiental es la significativa apatía que parece caracterizar a buena parte de los alumnos y maestros que les visitan (una tercera parte según nuestra fuente).

    Colaboraciones de mutuo beneficio con la población local:

    -[Esta/la iniciativa] provee las instalaciones para un Bazar Navideño que da oportunidad a comerciantes durante la temporada alta de vender sus productos — a quienes selecciona en función de garantizar la diversidad en la oferta de productos y con ello, el mayor atractivo del bazar. Aunque la renta que [Esta/la iniciativa] recibe de éstos sólo le alcanza para mantener el lugar y no le representa ninguna ganancia monetaria, le sirve para hacer su lugar de venta de árboles más atractivo a gente que viene de otras partes del país.

    -Lo mismo sucede con el Mercado de comida navideño, en cuyo casi ni siquiera se le cobra renta a los vendedores, pues la mayoría son locales.

    -[Esta/la iniciativa] da permiso a pepenadores locales de recoger y aprovechar la basura, lo que le ayuda a su vez a mantener sus instalaciones limpias.

    -También da permiso a los pastores locales de traer sus borregos a pastar, lo que a [Esta/la iniciativa] le sirve para que éstos corten el pasto y le abonen.

    •  En lugar de una renta fija, cada proyecto paga a [Esta/la iniciativa] un porcentaje de sus ingresos que varía según el acuerdo establecido al inicio de la colaboración.
    • El plan de[Esta/la iniciativa] . es rehabilitar primero dos hectáreas (limpieza, reforestación, regeneración de biodiversidad, saneamiento del agua fluvial) y aceptar proyectos de socios[Esta/la iniciativa] para generar ingresos y contribuir a la rehabilitación de la zona. Al ser barrancas, los proyectos que se pueden realizar son, en su mayoría, deportivos (bicicleta de montaña, escalada en roca, tirolesa, senderismo) y ambientales (reforestación, acuaponia).
    • The community contributes with volunteer work (e.g. the promoters), the payment and collection of Tumins, with facilities for holding the assemblies, with a space for Tumin’s House, with 5% of the value of the partners’ products sold at the Tumin’s House to cover administrative costs, with their participation in assemblies and other meetings, and with the payment of the shop’s (the Tumin’s house’s) staff (which is currently made by a group of teachers).
    • Uses the promotion of social participation as its transversal dimension (people’s ownership of the project can sustain it in a large extent even if financial support is vulnerable)
    • While the study centered on the[This/the initiative] Project and the[This/the initiative]was explored only to complement its information, both initiatives’ central objective is reducing their communities’ dependency on the peso-based national economy, which is not guaranteeing that resources flow into their localities, pushing their inhabitants to migrate or live in poverty. By capitalizing on and promoting social trust and solidarity, the final aim of their project is to enhance social cohesion as the basis for improving the lives of the communities, which made these two cases of great help for exploring the significance and means for self-sufficiency.
    • The[This/the initiative] project operates in a rural area of Veracruz, Mexico, deeply affected by poverty and its cyclical causes and consequences, meaning: the dependence resulting from the lack of means of production (people work lands that are not theirs or sell foreign products to survive), the violence permeating the State in the context of the country’s war on drugs, social divisiveness based on class, ethnicity, etc. All this still persists, despite the extensive intervention in the area of various poverty reduction government programs. For that reason, and inspired by the[This/the initiative], which has operated from Mexico City since 1996 promoting alternative barter markets (of products and services), local university teachers in 2010 created an alternative market project popularly known as “The[This/the initiative] Project” as a tool to boost the local economy (promoting the circulation of goods which had no buyers due to the absence of conventional money in the place) and reduce external dependence (on resources and on the values from the printing and distribution of economic currency).

    The Tumin is a voucher that is complementary to the peso, the Mexican currency. It seeks to support family income serving as a means of facilitating the development of an alternative exchange dynamic: the barter system (which actually used to be the traditional exchange system in the region).

    Vouchers are used to exchange goods with value equal to (but not worth) 1 Mexican Peso ($ 0.08 USD approx.), backed up by the goods and services offered by its partners, which are listed in a directory so that its members can compromise to support each other. A coordinating team, which is rotatory (ensuring the equitable representation of and responsibilisation of all of the members) monitors and evaluates the project. It is made up of Commissions (education, communication, etc.) that are in charge of organizing various issues related to the project, ensuring its integrative character.

    The community contributes with volunteer work (e.g. the promoters), the payment and collection of Tumins, facilities for holding the assemblies, a space for Tumin’s House (the project’s head office), and 5% of the value of the partners’ products sold at the Tumin’s House to cover administrative costs. They also contribute with their participation in assemblies and other meetings, and with the payment of the Tumin house’s staff. This participation has enabled the project to sustain itself so far, despite the organizers’ complaint about the difficulties they have had in gaining the trust of the people and enhancing their solidarity and participation, which they claim to be the result, mainly, of people’s habituation to g

    • An additional funding source comes from the project’s participation in the carbon bond market, in which it redeems its carbon emission certificates for the price set by the international market rules.
    • a model in which there is vast participation of learners, parents and other community members, teachers, and administrators in the school management, supervision and control, decision-making, planning and the implementation of education programs, and the development of curricula, and learning and teaching materials.[This/the initiative] is certainly a practical demonstration of such concepts, since it highlights the importance of co-management, relevant education, and strong context integration in order to ensure equal access to quality education.
    • The Participation in the Carbon Bond Market Scheme:

    Donations are possible to a large extent as a result of the project’s intention to participate in the carbon bond market through an intermediary. The carbon bond market is an international instrument to account the emission of greenhouse gasses which are not produced or are reduced as a result of compensatory measures such as the generation of renewable energy, improvement of energy efficiency process, afforestation, avoided deforestation, lakes and rivers cleaning, etc., to voluntarily mitigate the environmental damage caused. These bonds are translated into carbon emission certificates (CERs), each one equivalent to one tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) reduced or avoided, which can be redeemed for a price set by the international market rules. The carbon bond market is one of the internationally recognized mechanisms that allow particulars and public and private organizations become conscious of their responsibility towards climate change, and participate actively by selling or buying CERs to comply with the objectives of mitigating the environmental damage caused.

    To participate in this market,[This/the initiative]hired an intermediary entity – Terra Global Capital (from San Francisco) – for the design and promotion of the project within the international carbon bond market and the payment for the services to the beneficiaries. Therefore, all red tape procedures for this scheme are done by intermediary companies like this one that budget their payment themselves.

    • Decentralizing the program

    An important feature of the[This/the initiative] is that it is monitored by a Children’s Parliament. The children who are members of this forum, elected every two years by students attending the Night Schools, choose a Prime Minister who works with a student cabinet monitoring the work of the teachers, the functionality of the solar lanterns, the availability of safe drinking water, and the provision of teaching and learning materials. They also encourage children who have dropped out to attend school. The Prime Minister organizes monthly meetings in which the ministers raise any problems in the schools, ask adults for explanations, and prompt solutions. The cabinet is empowered to hire and fire teachers, and to expose cases of corruption. Some Night Schools’ teachers occasionally do not turn up for class, but children in the parliament help to create awareness of the potential problem so that it doesn’t happen very often. The forum clearly also serves to create awareness in the communities about the children’s points of view and needs. The general view is that although some problems might take some time to be solved, the system works. Moreover, “the concept of the Children’s Parliament is integral to the curriculum at the Night Schools. Children attending the Night Schools get to know more about political systems and structures by actually going through the learning process” (x).

    • The families of the[This/the initiative]’s children contribute to the program with cash or with donations of teaching aids or learning materials. Parents pay 10% of the cost of the health check-ups provided to the children. These contributions from the families are made in spite of the fact that families need their children’s contribution to the household income, and cannot easily afford to wait ten years for their children to start earning.

    At a community level, the families’ contribution is even larger. The communities generally provide the buildings for the Night Schools and other activities (such as the Children’s Parliament, fairs, workshops, and meetings), and contribute voluntarily with cash, food, time, or work to the realization of the program. The supervision and management of the[This/the initiative] is largely done by Village Education Committees and the Children’s Parliament, both volunteer organizations run by the community. Ultimately, almost the only expenses that are not covered by the community are the teachers’ salaries and some costs for activities that they cannot bear.

    The extent of this community involvement is also evident in the number of people associated with an extensively decentralized social structure that is integrated with the[This/the initiative]’s initiatives in this domain: 150 full-time staff, 500 half-time staff, and around 5000 honorary members. This is both important and unusual, given that policy makers and policies are usually very far from implementation sites and beneficiaries.

    The degree of ownership that the communities have of the program means that it already bears the hallmarks of sustainability, given that development interventions are generally successful to the extent that they are appropriated by and integrated into the communities where they are targeted. Such interventions are at greater risk of failure when project funding ceases or when external project advisers are withdrawn, probably because community ‘take-up’ or ‘buy-in’ has been limited, rendering the project unsustainable without such community investment and appropriation.

    • gracias al apoyo económico y emocional de parientes y amigos, se consiguió el terreno de su sede actual en 1997, en el que ellos mismos construyeron cabañas con materiales biodegradables y reciclados que hoy sirven de albergue a visitantes principalmente de Puebla y de la Ciudad de México. Gracias a la gestión de apoyos financieros gubernamentales, estas instalaciones se han complementado
    • Increasing the capacity of the[This/the initiative] to attract funding by putting emphasis on connecting the donors with the beneficiaries by creating a portfolio for the donors of the Solar Night Schools Program (in specific) that includes concrete information about:

    1. The problem that the Night Schools address.

    2. The[This/the initiative]’s mission, vision, and organizational scheme – personnel, programs, etc.

    3. The Solar Night Schools Program (a systematization of the model and how it works).

    4.The results obtained so far from the Solar Night Schools Program — qualitative (case studies) and quantitative (statistics) information that can connect the donors with what their funding might support and explain to them how was the region before the Night Schools started and how is it now.

    5. The organization’s financials.

    a. How does the[This/the initiative] collect money for the Night Schools, how does it use it, and how is it distributed.

    b.[This/the initiative]’s financial self-sustainability (here could be included the Community Contributions Inventory suggested in Amigos de Calakmul’s R1).

    6.  A “Gift Catalogue” where options are offered to the donors about means to contribute with items, activities, or services for the children and explaining how are they going to be used.

    7. Emotional connection with the donor: a conclusive text that concretely explains to the donor how their contribution is going to benefit the Solar Night Schools Program, and more importantly, the children and their communities.

    • Fuentes de autosustentabilidad:

    Casas construidas por ellos mismos con biomateriales

    Bio-construcciones de paja y adobe con aceite para que dure (proteger) – según X. Se llama pajareque – dijeron hijas- y es una mezcla de lodo, paja y baba de nopal.

    Apoyo comunidad (su familia y amigos) para evitar que se fueran a USA y se quedaran a hacer su sueño del hostal (les prestaron fondos).

    Sistema híbrido de Energía…

    Uso de energías alternativas tanto por filosofía ambientalista como por pragmatismo: Generador eólico + paneles solares + Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE) (porque energías alternativas son más baratas y CFE  te deduce lo que tu produzcas sobrante que le vendas pero no son estables y el hostal no se puede dar el lujo de que se le acabe la energía en días lluviosos o así).

    Huerto de manzanos: pero 3% aprox. Autosuficiencia.

    • Regarding the Participation in the Carbon Bond Market Scheme:

    One of[This/the initiative]’s main strengths and most well-known contributions in the development field is the Solar Energy Program, which is already greatly intertwined with its other initiatives – including the Night Schools – that are largely possible due the provision of the solar lanterns that allow them to run at night. Moreover, many Night School alumni participate in the Solar Energy Program once they have graduated.

    This means that, so far, the Night Schools are already part of the Solar Energy Program, which generates renewable energy and therefore is eligible to participate in schemes such as the carbon bond market.

    • Recommendation made in the[This/the initiative]Study:

    R5: To design a strategy to integrate more solidly and consciously the Solar Night Schools Program to the[This/the initiative]’s UNESCO Learning Centres for Sustainable Community Development (x), and find an intermediary (such as Terra Global Capital) that introduces it to the international carbon bond market and deals with all the procedures involved in this funding source.

    Money collected by this means can also be included into the Capital Fund (see R3) and ensured through a Trust Fund (see R4) as[This/the initiative]does to strengthen the financial sustainability of its project.

    • [This/the initiative]’s value chain (the organization’s inputs, means to create value, and outputs).