chapter  7
32 Pages

Partnerships

Our need for balanced economies has long pointed past community involvement in corporate schemes, towards more community-centred aspirations. The ecotourism concept originally offered a promising transition; however, the pitch for communities soon took on a market meaning. Ecotourism became an industry, with a conspicuous absence of prior informed consent (PIC) from those targeted as ‘destinations’. International agencies promoting ‘eco’ tourism have yet to grapple with the industry’s broken promises to Indigenous Peoples. By mandate or perceived necessity, most work with industry, directly or indirectly utilizing conventional modes of business. This means that Indigenous Peoples are viewed in project terms. They are seen to offer ‘social capital’ and ‘biodiversity’ (Toepfer, 2002), or ‘cultural resources’. It is a dehumanizing approach, without any substrate for real relationships. The principle of partnering, although supposedly central to ecotourism, has not resonated in many boardrooms of any shade. To corporations and conservation groups alike, Indigenous Peoples represent either a means to an end or an impediment. Both normally answer to constituencies with a short attention span – for instance, shareholders or funders. Each tends towards ‘Atype’ project thinking. In this type of institutional structure, it is common for Indigenous Peoples to be surreptitiously factored into ‘done’ deals.