What are some attributes of strong governance?
Good governance depends on purposeful decision-making, participation, accountability and transparency. Thinking carefully about these things up front and planning them formally into your Indigenous Guardian program will go a long way toward setting you up for success.
- Decision-making authority for the program should be assigned right from the ground up. It is important to determine what decisions are made by field crew or a crew manager, what decisions are made by the program manager, and what decisions need to be made by or in consultation with a Department Director, Band Council, Hereditary Chiefs, Advisory Committee, etc. Get clarity and agreement around who needs to be involved in what decisions to ensure there is no confusion or concerns.
- Clarifying who, how, and when people should be involved in decision-making about the program is key to establishing a strong governance model. Program advisory or governance committees made up of mixed membership (i.e. elders, land users, Council, hereditary Chiefs, department heads, community members, etc.) can be an effective way to ensure that the program is well-integrated into the strategic objectives of the community, is guided by local experience and knowledge, and is well understood by all.
- Accountability means that the program has clear set of objectives it is seeking to achieve (i.e. increased territorial patrols, wildlife monitoring, financial sustainability) and that it reports against these. Again, accountability can be assigned from the ground up, with clear expectations set for staff, crew leaders, program manager, directors, etc. Clearly assigned accountability at all levels and against all key objectives, will help to keep your program on track. A reporting system should be developed to ensure that information about program delivery, activities, observations, data collection, analysis, etc. is gathered and shared up (within the organizational structure) and out (to the community and other stakeholders as appropriate).
- Transparency relates to the ease of accessing information about the operations and outcomes of the program, and the decision-making that are affecting it. Strong transparency happens when clear decision-making processes and structures are in place, good documentation occurs, information is well organized and stored for easy access, communications and reporting are strong, and information is shared in both a responsive and routine (proactive) manner.