CBNRM Networking

CBNRM Networking, logo

CBNRM Networking is a Norwegian NGO (Note 2). In the following I will briefly present: (1) the history of Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM), (2) what CBNRM is, and (3) what CBNRM Networking does.

The History of CBNRM

More specifically, this is my personal history of – and relationship with – CBNRM, as the NGO CBNRM Networking comes out of a long series of activities and experiences, chains of events if you like, that I have been involved in. It was the consequence and summary of several different strands of concerns and activities, including common property rights, human rights, indigenous peoples, intellectual property rights, natural resource management, and participatory approaches, that eventually and gradually came together under the heading of CBNRM.

Early on there was practical village-level work in connection with doing anthropological fieldwork among traditional inland fishermen in Bangladesh during the early 1980s.

With my employment with the World Bank during the 1990s, work on CBNRM became more focused, above all in networking and at the level, albeit via some detours. These are the networks and projects I have established, and/or worked on and managed / co-managed, presented in the order in which they were established. Most have dedicated articles on Devblog (Note 6):

  • World Bank Indigenous Peoples Network (IPNet).  1994-1995. World Bank network. Precursor to the World Bank CPRNet (see below).
  • World Bank Common Property Resource Management Network (CPRNet).  1995-2000. International network. Merged with World Bank CBNRM Net (see below).
  • World Bank CBNRM Initiative.  1997-1999. This project organized an international workshop on CBNRM in May 1998. CPRNet was a partner. Led to the establishment of the World Bank CBNRM Net (see below).
  • World Bank CBNRM Net.  1998-2000. International network, for participants in the 1998 workshop (see above), and others that work on CBNRM.
  • CBNRM Net.  2000-present. International network. Continuation of the World Bank's CBNRM Net.
  • CBNRM Networking.  2000-present. International NGO. Registered in Norway. Manages CBNRM Net.

Given my longstanding interest in and work on indigenous peoples' issues, I first established two World Bank networks, IPNet and CPRNet, aimed at people in civil society and NGOs internationally as well as World Bank staff. These networks collaborated on advancing common property issues and concerns as they applied to indigenous peoples, including on knowledge management, and they also partly functioned as support to the World Bank's operational work involving indigenous peoples. These networks led me to organize an international workshop on CBNRM (Washington DC, May 1998), with CPRNet a partner. The many international participants at this conference recommended that the World Bank set up a networking facility to cater to CBNRM in general, and to provide networking and knowledge management services for the participants in particular, and so I established CBNRM Net was established. I created, organized, and managed, among others, a dedicated website, an internal World Bank seminar series, and a Newsletter series for CBNRM Net (Note 3).

The focus in the early networking and organizational activities, up to and including the World Bank CBNRM Net, was on CBNRM in the original understanding of the term. That is, we focused upon the relationship between the environment and its resources versus local culture and people. However, there was a certain emphasis on Nature and natural resources.

With the establishment of CBNRM Networking, and the concomitant move from United States to Norway, my networking on CBNRM entered a new phase.


The focus of CBNRM, as understood by CBNRM Networking and the many that are part of this global network, gradually became broader. There is, I would say, now a more balanced emphasis on Culture versus Nature. CBNRM today addresses a host of issues that may not have much of a direct relationship with the management or local natural resources, be they terrestrial or aquatic. It addresses issues that lead to ineffective or lacking community-based management of both human and natural resources. These issues include, or are related to, but not limited to: Capacity building, Culture, Democracy and good governance, Discrimination, Education, Environment and climate change, Equal opportunities, Human rights, Minorities and social inclusion, Regional and local development, and Sustainable development.

CBNRM is an approach to managing renewable natural resources. Different people and occasions have, at different times, given rise to different understandings of the term and this approach to NRM and sustainable development. Thus, CBNRM has variously been described as, inter alia, a tool (or a set of tools), a checklist, a method, a means, a set of activities, a model, a process and an approach. This speaks to the breadth, adaptability, and robustness of the CBNRM approach (Note 5).

CBNRM encompasses a large amount of experimentation and regional variation. There is a large amount of experimentation going on worldwide in the area of local NRM, and the practitioners involved may or may not use the label ‘CBNRM.’ And when they do, chances are there are variations in interpretation. Such differences in understanding and terminology are caused by different factors, including culture, history and language.

CBNRM is an evolving agenda in two distinct ways:

  • ‘Doing’ CBNRM.  It is not possible to determine beforehand a detailed course of action at the local level. The starting point, as well as the hoped-for goal, will be known; while how to get there to a large extent will be unknowns; and
  • Developing the CBNRM Approach.  CBNRM is a moving target. This is partly because CBNRM is evolving, as a result of experimenting and learning. It is also partly because the issues themselves change, with new stakeholders, new problems, and new ways of addressing them.

CBNRM involves much learning by doing. While the goals are likely to be similar, the means employed will often differ. At any one juncture in the process there are choices to be made, as no situation is identical with any other situation.

Three core aspects of CBNRM can be identified:

  • Community.  CBNRM starts with communities as a basis, and ends with communities as a focus. In-between is a strategic process of identifying needs and local capacities, and involving stakeholders, within and beyond the community.
  • Natural Resource Management.  CBNRM addresses the management of local and renewable natural resources. More specifically, it focuses on natural resources that are under some form of communal or collective management.
  • Co-management.  CBNRM activities take place on different levels, and speaks to the importance of establishing relations between stakeholders. Successful co-management must give parallel and strategic emphasis to both community-based groups (horizontal) and operational linkages (vertical).

What CBNRM Networking Does

Our work is divided in two separate areas, (1) networking, and (2) operations. The first focuses on internal work with and among network members, and users of our services more generally. The second is concerned with project work. These two areas are followed by some comments on: (3) the competence and expertise we offer in operational work, and (4) the type of expertise we seek in operational work, and that we would want to partner with.

Networking Activities

CBNRM Networking is a global network and a virtual Community of Practice. We work with and for people that are engaged in community-based development, broadly understood. The emphasis is partly on the community, partly on the local natural resources being utilized / extracted, and partly on the available human resources. Following from the foundational experience of the 1998 international CBNRM workshop, we aim to provide the network's members as well as other users with the necessary and relevant experiences and knowledge that support their local work and subsistence practices. In doing this, we understand CBNRM to be a broad approach and process of accessing the necessary understanding of how local natural resource management is embedded in a web of economics, kinship, politics, social organization, and values, that is, culture writ large. 

The essence of our networking activities is to manage development cooperation knowledge that relates to CBNRM (Wikipedia n.d.). Knowledge management is the process of creating, sharing, using, and managing knowledge. Core components of knowledge management roughly include people/culture, processes/structure, and technology. The details depend on which of several perspectives are used, which in the case of CBNRM Networking include the perspectives of: Community of practice and Social network analysis. (Kiburn et al n.d.: Groth n.d.). Both perspectives rely largely on mobile technologies and online or virtual communities.

CBNRM Networking's communication strategy rests to a large extent on the use of email and websites, as follows:

Further, we communicate via a number of social/business media platforms. Which platform is used depends on the content, the goal(s), and the target group(s). The tools and platform used, for networking activities as well as operational work (see below), include the following:

Several of these social/business media platforms are presently not in use. Do you have suggestions for how to activate those that are not in use?

Operational Work

Our areas of operational work include, but are not limited to: capacity building, project management, social/institutional analyse, and sustainable development. We have skills and expertise in the following areas: Civil society, Climate change adaptation, Communication, Community-based natural resource management, Conflict resolution, Environmental impact assessment, Ethnic minorities, Governance, Human rights, Inclusion, Indigenous peoples, Institutional analysis, Knowledge management, Land degradation, Land rights, Leadership, Microfinance, Monitoring and evaluation, Needs assessment, Negotiation, Networking, Participation, Portfolio management, Private sector development, Public-Private Partnership, Quality assurance, Resettlement, Rural development, Safeguard policies, Social analysis, Social assessment, Social development, Social impact assessment, Social innovation, Social media marketing, Social sciences, Stakeholder analysis, Stakeholder engagement, Stakeholder management, Strategic communication, Training, and Transparency.

We work on projects that receive financing from, inter alia, EEA and Norway Grants, Norad, UN, and World Bank. In terms of communication between stakeholders, we focus specifically on connecting stakeholders: (1) in civil society with each other, (2) in public sector, private sector and civil society with each other, and (3) across generations.

Some recent projects, briefly listed:

  • Nepal, 2016-18, Resettlement expert / PlannerNalgad hydropower project. Member EIA team, responsible for involuntary resettlement component, including mentoring and building close relations with local people.
  • Bulgaria, 2015-17, Adviser / TrainerImprovement of penitentiary staff's capacity for prevention of discrimination and protection of human rights.  Improved competence of staff through training. Special focus on juvenile delinquents.
  • Latvia, 2015-16, Adviser / Expert on research methodologyRenovation impact on climate change and energy efficiency habits of residents. Study of tenants' decision-making regarding renovation, climate change and energy efficiency.
  • Bulgaria, 2015-16, Expert on ethnic minority culture / TrainerIncreasing capacity of Medical Univ. Plovdiv staff on health awareness among Roma. Organized stakeholder analysis. Aim to integrate Roma. Used social analysis to understand the position of Roma in Bulgarian society. Prepared and delivered training on cultural awareness for university staff.
  • Bulgaria, 2014-15, Knowledge management expert / TrainerPromoting democratic values with the TV series 'Small stories from the Roma world'. Produced films that presented Roma culture, with the aim to integrate a disadvantaged group. Focus on young persons. 
  • Nepal, 2010, Team leader / Evaluation expertSocial inclusion research fund. Final evaluation of project. Advised govt. on restructuring education sector to include ethnic minority students. Mentoring for young people at the BA and MA levels. Focus on integration of disadvantaged ethnic minorities.
  • Nepal, 2009-10, Institutional expertMobilization for development and education through ICT. Advised politicians and public sector on how to adapt ICTs to local cultures. Developed training programs. Mentoring for local people, including grown-ups and young people.
  • Romania, 2008-11, Trainer / Institutional expertEcotourism in Tara Dornelor, an instrument for sustainable development. Developed training on network building and communication for public sector and civil society. Advised commune chairmen on revising governance structures and legal frameworks to include civil society.
  • Bulgaria, 2008-10, Institutional expert / TrainerPublic support to the sustainable management of Natura 2000 sites. Delivered training on network building, conducted risk analysis / assessment, established communication between stakeholders in public sector, civil society, and private sector. Gave training and mentoring to civil society leaders and commune staff.

Competence and Expertise Offered

In partnerships on a project proposal, we can, in general, provide advisory services on the following parts of the project cycle: preparation, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. Specifically, we can help to identify: (1) key capacities of the applicant that are relevant to the call, and (2) comparative advantages of applicant and partner. Further, we can: (3) provide relevant Norwegian experiences (in Norway or internationally), (4) be involved in monitoring implementation (incl. conflicts or problems that may occur), (5) devise and give training, and (6) help create exit strategies.

Competence and Expertise Sought

In identifying partnerships, we emphasize the following broad context: we are based primarily in the social sciences. We accordingly focus on social development, while also having a broad inter-disciplinary approach. We partner with organizations that address the situation of local people and their communities, as connected with the issues listed in the description above. Furthermore, we partner with entities that are interested in learning and applying project management and M&E.

Lars T Soeftestad

(1) This article is partly based on the presentation of CBNRM Networking on the website that is managed by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (see Sources).
(2) CBNRM Networking was registered in the Norwegian Business Register on 30 May 2009, with Registration Number: 994 162 284. Founding date: 5 May 2009. NACE: 94.991. Institutional Sector: 7000. Open Corp Data: European Commission PIC: 898 502 659 (registered August 2019).
(3) The website has been removed, but it is available via (see Sources). The Newsletters and other CBNRM Net output are available on my account at (see Sources).
(4) Part of this section is adapted from Soeftestad and Gerrard (1999).
(5) Image credit: Lars Soeftestad, CBNRM Networking.

(6) Relevant Devblog articles: "World Bank 'CPRNet'" at: | "World Bank 'CBNRM Initiative" at: | "CBNRM Net" at:
(7) Other Devblog articles: "My Networks, 1970s-current" at: | "Networks and Networking" at: | "Networks and Virtual Communication" at: | "Languages, Land Tenure, and Land Degradation" at: "Languages, Land Tenure, and Land Degradation" at:
(8) Permalink. URL:
(9) This article was published 21 February 2019. It was revised 10 December 2020.

NGO Norway, URL:
Groth, Kristina. n.d. "Using social networks for knowledge management". Stockholm, Sweden: Dept. of Numerical Analysis and Computing Science, Royal Institute of Technology.
Kiburn, K, et al. n.d. "TeacherBridge: Knowledge management in communities of practice". Blacksburg, Virginia: Center for Human Computer Interaction, Dept. of Computer Science, Virgina Tech.
Soeftestad, Lars T. 2002. CBNRM Net: Knowledge management and networking for the gobal CBNRM community of practice. CBNRM Net Papers, no. 3, June 2002. URL:
Soeftestad, Lars T. and Chris D. Gerrard. 1999. "The International Workshop on Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM). Washington D.C., United States, 10-14 May 1998. Workshop Report. Washington D.C., United States: World Bank Institute, World Bank. URL:
Wikipedia. n.d. "Knowledge management", at: