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USAID Forest Team RM Portal Presentation

by Jean Brennan last modified Jan 10, 2013 11:46 AM
RM Portal Presentation


USAID “Integrated Natural Resource Management (RM) Portal:

Networking development staff, partners, and researchers in an effort to enhance coordination, training, and knowledge management

 

New development strategies are forming, signaling a major shift in foreign assistance approach at the same time that the entire conservation and natural resource management paradigm is navigating its own new path – one that adopts a landscape-level approach and requires the formation of strategic linkages among traditional non-governmental partner as well as newer public-private-partnerships.  The new development and national security “lens” reflects the multi-dimensional challenges facing conservation, sustainable development, and security demand cost-effective technical and scientific knowledge management, effective and timely deliver training and share improved practices, support of program management and the ability to work across-sectors, and to foster collaborative and direct communication services.  Timely and effective communication among the partners, as well as fostering an understanding by the development and research partners of the various technical, as well as US policy issues, is critical.  Thus, there is a critical need to network development and diplomacy work with our mission and embassies overseas, with their non-governmental organizations (NGO), community-based organizations (CBO), and the science and research partners working to support development activities.  The USAID Integrated Natural Resource Management Networking Platform (RM Portal) was designed to serve as the needed networking, communication, and outreach delivery system. 

 

The design and functionality of the RM Portal was guided based on in-depth and in-country interviews conducted through the USAID Mission staff and implementing partners in Brazil that served as the focal group that participated in several workshops and to complete both technical (NRM) and computer (IT) needs assessment surveys.  With the benefit of this sort of “bottom-up” feedback and creative brainstorming we came to realize that it is not sufficient to simply generate materials for outreach, but believe rather that we must provide an effective delivery systemone that allows Washington-based offices to reach out the Missions, while also allowing USAID/Mission, Embassy Science and Technology Staff, and Mission Partners to reach back to Washington.  The key is to network the partners and then link the Mission and Embassy staff back to Washington.  We refer to our system as an “integrated” networking platform both in terms of its integration at the organizational level, as well as its integration of professional resources and staff across sectors.  (The term platform is used to signify the multi-stakeholder, multi-media, and cross-sectoral approach that is envisioned.)

 

The RM Portal is a web-based tool with an internet interface that allows sponsored users to log into an external website (i.e., a site that is hosted on a non-government server, thus eliminating any fear of “hacking” or access to sensitive or security files).  It is an online meeting place for Missions and Partners worldwide, which serves as an interactive gateway for information exchange, education, and collaboration.  The Portal focus on natural resource management and human livelihoods and security, renewable energy, and environmental and human health issues across the globe.  It hosts a community of dedicated professionals with similar goals, and provides a common meeting place that increases the available base of sustainable development and conservation management.  This Portal provides collaborative tools for the community allowing members to share files and dialog online.  Portal tools include collaborative workgroups, the ability to view, add, and share files and images (virtually all electronic media), forums that support topical online dialog, an online calendar, news and the ability to comment on items posted within the portal. 

 

In addition to communication tools, the RM Portal offers a resource Library and Training area and discussion forums that provides a dynamic and cost-effective tool that provides a high level of communication and coordination between diplomacy and development staff and sponsored partner organizations, institutions, or consortia.  Forums are used to discuss topics online among portal community members.  Forums are private and require separate user registration and login.  Of particular importance is the ability to facilitate communication and coordination between the many organizations in order to work collaboratively, have a robust training capability and ensure knowledge management.  There are many independent efforts at outreach and few coordinated ones among the partners.  A large body of educational and outreach materials exists, but is in a variety of formats.  Current methods of delivering information, training, and collaborative communications to a wide but specialized audience are not as efficient and flexible as they need to address development and security goals.  In addition, production and distribution of educational materials is not considered efficient or cost-effective as there is much rework and limited sharing of materials, especially between organizations and regions.  This results in a need to encourage the reuse and re-purposing of materials.  To efficiently promote the dynamic and distributed flow of information, materials, training, and communications, as well as management of mission and mission partner activities

 

It is our vision to provide the development (portal) community (i.e., our staff and development partners) with direct links to people, programs, and products representing diverse professional communities worldwide.  By enhancing our joint efforts and outreach activities, we hope to contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of our natural resources, to enhance security and reduce conflict over resources, and to protect environmental and human health.

 

USAID Brazil Mission is the first mission to be sponsored in the portal and describe it below:

  • In addition to being timely and needed by all partners, the iNRM Portal is a tool that can be used to strengthen the environment program strategy.  Disseminating information and exchanging experiences among consortium members, the other consortia and partners represent fundamental elements to the success of that new institutional arrangement chosen by the program to implement the strategic plan period;
  • The Portal can be a very important mechanism to learn from other missions and to disseminate results from Brazil.  Brazilian USAID’s partners should benefit from a broader dissemination of their results; and
  • The Portal is an institutional strengthening instrument.  In this sense, it should contribute to partners’ empowerment and autonomy.  Availability of funds for training and acquisition of necessary equipment will be very important.
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