Interview with Javier Bustamente(This interview was conducted in 2002)
Executive Director, Sustainable Forest Management Corporation (COMAFORS)
Javier describes his current work as Executive Director of the Sustainable Forest Management Corporation (COMAFORS) in Ecuador as involving two distinct areas. Politically, this non-governmental organization (NGO) promotes tools for environmental management with private industry, the Ministry of the Environment of Ecuador, environmental NGOs and civil society groups. Much of this promotional work specifically touches upon the application of standards and laws that govern the sustainable development of forests.
The technical activity in which Javier is engaged deals with the design and execution of sustainable forest projects in coordination with international organizations such as the United Nations, the International Tropical Timber Organization, the International Union of Forestry Research Organizations, and the German and Swedish agencies for international cooperation and development.
Most Important IPMS Lessons
Javier found the IPMS case studies and negotiation simulations to be very representative of contemporary sustainability challenges and thus a valuable tool for training professionals that seek to address such issues in their work. The multicultural makeup of the participants, coupled with their representation of both developed and developing countries, was also very enriching.
Applying IPMS Lessons
Javier indicates that he uses his IPMS skills in tackling the severe environmental problems that he faces at COMAFORS. To be an effective leader of such an organization, he is routinely required to identify stakeholder interests, work with them toward devising creative solutions, and perform the necessary follow-up to ensure that the commitments made are solidly kept.
In 1999, he retained the services of a professional mediator to conduct two training courses on negotiation for a variety of Ecuadorian stakeholders. In 2000, he himself participated in one of the courses and found that his knowledge of the issues facing the sustainability of forests in Ecuador improved dramatically. Based upon this greater understanding of the interests surrounding the development of forested lands, he has felt better equipped to develop workable solutions to these problems.
Suggestions for Improving IPMS
The improvements that Javier suggests are related to topics covered in the program. Land use planning and watershed management in developing countries are two substantive areas of sustainable development that should be added to the course in some way. In addition, for those who may lack strong technical backgrounds or knowledge of sustainable development issues, the substantive content of IPMS should be augmented, perhaps through lengthening the course. Furthermore, Javier recommends that a deeper analysis of the following questions be conducted as part of the IPMS curriculum: What do we mean fundamentally when we speak of sustainable development? What is an environmental impact assessment (EIA) and how should it be used? What value can be found in performing a benefit/cost analysis?
Suggestions for Other SCF Activities
Javier has been involved in past attempts to create a regional program similar to IPMS that focuses attention on sustainable forestry issues in the Andean countries of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Colombia. These efforts, however, were impeded by difficulties in securing the necessary funding. Despite such impediments, Javier remains convinced that the development of a regional program is important to bring the IPMS training to bear on sustainability issues that are unique to Latin America. To make this a reality, he recommends that the Sustainability Challenge Foundation first identify the need for a regional program of this nature together with regional funding organizations and potential participants. Javier feels confident that currently there is interest in such a program. He also points out that past efforts to secure the funding for these programs is most likely from regional sources such as the Andean Development Bank. The formulation of a long-term regional training plan consisting in a series of progressive courses may also help to garner adequate financial support.