Diverse values and a common utopia: Insights from a participatory art-based plural valuation experience in Xalapa, Mexico

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Plural valuation of nature is key for inclusive and fair sustainability policies. Although there is a growing awareness of the importance of incorporating multiple values of nature in decision making, inclusive processes of this type are rare, limited to consultations, or have little transparency regarding their translation into public policy. Especially in nature conservation schemes such as protected areas, the integration of values from local communities is much needed. In this article, we analyze the experience of the Forest Stewards Network in Xalapa, Mexico, to show how plural valuation and the recognition of the inseparable link between the values of nature and the values that shape social organization can contribute to environmental decision making. We present the method of collective creation of utopias by drawing-telling as a practice to elicit and integrate multiple values in decision-making processes. We applied a participatory art-based plural valuation approach, structured in five stages: (1) a collective diagnosis of the problem(s), (2) creating individual utopias through drawings and narratives, (3) integrating values in collective utopia, (4) strategic planning, and (5) collective action. This method led to significant results in relation to learning, values, decision making, and action, fostering mutual understanding and diversity as principles for a more horizontal organization. We conclude by highlighting the importance of learning and experimenting around inclusive decision-making processes at all levels, as well as the significant contributions of grassroots organizations to this matter.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1234747
JournalCase Studies in the Environment
Issue number1
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 24.02.2021

Bibliographical note

We thank our fellow Forest Stewards Network's participants for their commitment to transforming our common home into a more just and sustainable place. We also thank them for their wholehearted participation in the experience we analyze in this paper. Moreover, we thank colleagues from the Grupo de Investigaci?n-Acci?n Socioecol?gica for their collaboration with the facilitation during the workshop and revision of a manuscript of this article. Special thanks go to Berta Mart?n L?pez, Ingrid Estrada Paulin, Mar?a del Socorro Aguilar Cucurachi, Luisa Par?, Franziska Bart, Gerardo Alatorre, Gialuanna Ayora, and Ines Hensler for their useful feedback. The first author thanks the Graduate Program in Sustainability Sciences, National Autonomous University of Mexico. The main author received a Conacyt Scholarship for her PhD.