My Networks, 1970s-Current

Mali pastoralists, Aioun, Mauritania, May 2004

Throughout my professional career I have been interested in networking, from the beginning directly, or face-to-face, and later on increasingly virtually. Starting with my employment as a World Bank staff member in the early 1990s, I began eagerly to utilize the new possibilities available with the Internet and email. Since then my networking activities have increasingly focussed on virtual networking.

A main reason for this is that relevant stakeholders increasingly are not available in the same location, or region, or country, not to mention the same continent. Essentially, the typical development oriented network today consist of people and organization that live far apart, most of whom are likely to never connect physically.

Another reason for my interest in networking internationally is that most of the issues, challenges, and problems we face in development cooperation are found throughout the world. By the same token, the solutions are also available internationally. Networking thus focuses on knowledge management, and sharing of knowledge between participants.

I have initiated, managed, and/or worked on networking in a number of different areas, including: Common Property Resources (CPR), Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM), Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM), development cooperation, fisheries, human rights, indigenous peoples, intellectual property rights, and project management. Some were successful and long-lasting (partly ongoing), while others for a number of reasons did not really take off, which certainly provided interesting lessons in how to not do it (Note 1).

The networks and networking activities that I have initiated, managed, and/or worked on, include the following (Note 2):

  1. Indigenous peoples and development – International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA); 1975-1993  (Note 3)
  2. Indigenous Peoples, Human Rights, and Development – University of Zurich, Dept. of Anthropology; 1990-1993  (Note 4)
  3. Network on Human Rights and Indigenous Peoples – European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA); 1991-1993  (Note 5)
  4. Intellectual Property Rights Network (IPRNet) – World Bank; 1993-1995  (Note 6)
  5. Indigenous Peoples Network (IPNet) – World Bank; 1994-1995  (Note 7)
  6. Common Property Resource Management Network (CPRNet) – World Bank; 1994-1999  (Note 8)
  7. Fisheries Network (FishNet) – World Bank; 1993-1999  (Note 9)
  8. Integrated Coastal Zone Management Network (ICZMNet) – World Bank; 1995-1998  (Note 10)
  9. Community-Based Natural Resource Management Initiative (CBNRM Initiative) – World Bank; 1997-1999  (Note 11)
  10. Community-Based Natural Resource Management Network (CBNRM Net) – World Bank; 1998-2000  (Note 12)
  11. Community-Based Natural Resource Management Networking – CBNRM Networking; 2000-current  (Note 13)
  12. Community-Based Natural Resource Management Network (CBNRM Net) – CBNRM Networking; 2000-current  (Note 14)
  13. Supras' staff and consultant network – Supras Ltd., Bulgaria and Norway; 2000-current  (Note 15)
  14. Norwegian NGOs partnering on EEA and Norway Grants projects – CBNRM Networking, and Supras Limited Networking; 2010-2015  (Note 16)

Lars T Soeftestad


  1. This article is based upon, and expands upon, the Devblog articles "CBNRM Overview" and "Networks and Virtual Communication" (Note 17).
  2. The networks are listed in order of appearance, with issues listed first, followed by institutional affiliation and period. Some networks were informal without an official name, and some were formal networks. The networks that address CBNRM are also discussed in the Devblog article "CBNRM overview" (Note 17).
  3. IWGIA is an indigenous peoples' support organization. It was originally closely aligned with the field of anthropology, and there were local IWGIA groups in several university departments, including at the Universities in Bergen and Oslo in Norway, and I was actively involved in the groups at both universities. In 1990, after I began working at the Dept. of Anthropology at University of Zurich, I established a local IWGIA group that consisted of students in my courses on applied anthropology, indigenous peoples, and human rights.
  4. I established an informal network among the students that followed my courses on applied anthropology, indigenous peoples, and human rights at University of Zurich, together with other interested parties mostly in civil society.
  5. This network was initiated at the EASA conference at Coimbra, Portugal in 1990, and continued at the EASA conference in Prague in 1992. Several Newsletters and other material were produced (all this is available on my account at, see Sources). In 1993 I started a new job at the World Bank, and as none of the members were willing to take over management responsibilities it closed.   
  6. The Intellectual Property Rights Network (IPNet) aimed to create an intra-organizational network connecting World Bank and key international organizations in civil society. It was a precursor to the World Bank CPRNet (Note 8).
  7. IPNet was an internal World Bank network. It was a knowledge management facility. Information about projects, published works, and general issues related to indigenous peoples, in particular as regards common resources, were shared with World Bank staff via email. It was a precursor to the World Bank CPRNet (Note 8).
  8. CPRNet aimed to connect World Bank staff that worked on common property resource issues with external experts in civil society and public sector. The several regular activities included brown-bag lunches, Newsletters, and other material (all of this is available on my account at, see Sources). It merged with CBNRM Net (Note 12) in 2000. (see Devblog articles on CBNRM in Note 18.)
  9. FishNet was a network for World Bank staff, at HQs and in country offices that worked on fisheries, including high seas and coastal fisheries. It was located in the World Bank's Rural Department. There was a dedicated website under the World Bank website. Newsletters were produced, and there was substantial knowledge management and sharing. Due to lacking interest from the management it eventually folded.
  10. ICZMNet catered to World Bank staff that were interested in ICZM. There was a certain overlap with FishNet (Note 9). It was not given much attention by the management, and it did not move beyond an informal network.
  11. CBNRM Initiative was a World Bank project. It organized an international workshop on CBNRM (Washington DC, May 1998). CPRNet (Note 8) was a partner. It led to the establishment of the World Bank's CBNRM Net (Note 12). (see Devblog articles on CBNRM in Note 18.)
  12. CBNRM Net was an international network, originally created for participants in the 1998 workshop (Note 11) and others that work on CBNRM. A website was established under the World Bank website. Regional training workshops were organized. Several Newsletters were published. It moved to Norway in 2000 and became a project under CBNRM Networking (Notes 13 and 14). (see Devblog articles on CBNRM in Note 18.)
  13. CBNRM Networking is a network responsible for work done under CBNRM Net (Note 14). It was registered as an NGO in Norway in 2009. (see Devblog articles on CBNRM in Note 18.)
  14. CBNRM Net is the continuation of the World Bank's CBNRM Net (Note 12). It moved from the World Bank to Norway in 2000, and became a project under the Norwegian NGO CBNRM Networking (Note 13). It caters to people and organizations that use the CBNRM websites and (see Devblog articles on CBNRM in Note 18.)
  15. A network of the staff, as well as consultants, connected with Supras Ltd. (Norway) and Supras EOOD (Bulgaria).
  16. The Norwegian NGO Norwegian Association for Adult Learning (VOFO) was also involved. A dedicated website was prepared. This Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not find this of interest, and this network was never realized.
  17. Image credit: Lars Soeftestad, Supras Ltd. About: Mali pastoralists migrating into southern Mauritania, south of Aioun el Atrouss, May 2004.
  18. Relevant Devblog articles: "Networks and Virtual Communication" at: | "Networks and Networking" - | "CBNRM Net" at: | "World Bank 'CBNRM Initiative" at: | "World Bank 'CPRNet'" at: | "CBNRM Networking" at:
  19. Other Devblog articles: "Bulgarian M&E Network" at: | "Agderkonferansen og internasjonalisering" at: | "Internationalization and Globalization" at: | "Agder og internasjonalisering" at:
  20. Further Devblog articles: "After the Pandemic - Rethink or Return to Normal" at: | "Agder After the Pandemic" at: | "Agder etter pandemien" at: | "Climate Change - What's Next?" at: | "Business Sector and Sustainability" at:
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  22. This article was published 11 November 2020. It was revised 13 November 2020.


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