February 18, 2013
The DAI-led FRAMEweb online community celebrates its 10th year this month. FRAMEweb, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), connects natural resource management (NRM) practitioners and local champions, shares the latest tools and resources, and facilitates critical conversations relevant to NRM work. In its 10th year, collaboration around the community is steadily growing, with more than 2,750 members who live and work in 120 countries.
In conceiving the website, USAID envisioned a platform that would foster knowledge sharing between practitioners regardless of where they are—in the field or in a central office—enriching development efforts with new avenues for collaboration. “The developers of FRAME reached out to us and really worked with us to bring us into this community and make us feel a part of it,” said Diane Russell of USAID’s Forestry and Biodiversity Office, of the early days of FRAMEweb. Today, FRAMEweb, implemented by the Capitalizing Knowledge Connecting Communities project, enables practitioners to share best practices and lessons learned across geographic boundaries and to form and take advantage of organic partnerships.
FRAMEweb has come a long way in serving the NRM community as it does today. FRAMEweb was initiated in USAID’s Africa Bureau in the late 1990s as a way to organize and share the massive amount of information about NRM activities, results, and lessons. As the Internet evolved, so did the ability to stock and organize information, to bring practitioners together to virtually discuss thematic topics, and to share proceedings beyond any one location. In 2003, when the original discussions were reopened, FRAMEweb—in its first year—was there to provide a dynamic space that reached a broader audience focused on African development. In 2005, FRAMEweb expanded beyond Africa, taking the conversation global and adding English and Spanish speakers.
“I use FRAMEweb to learn from stories of other communities of practice and enjoy measuring their relevance and applicability to our work,” said Abu-Bakar Massaquoi of the U.S. Forest Service’s international programs.
The site has come to connect practitioners in even the most remote areas, particularly those affected by global environmental challenges such as natural disaster, food security, and climate change, allowing them to mutually learn on-the-ground solutions to similar environmental drivers.
For other practitioners, it’s a place to connect and collaborate around specific expertise or areas of interest. “FRAMEweb has been very useful in connecting me with people who believe in community-based NRM and want to push it forward,” said Shreya Metha of Engility.
FRAMEweb also offers a space for peer review. Members have posted significant publications like USAID’s Nature, Wealth, Power Framework, the Natural Resource Governance Tool, and Equatorial Guinea’s Environmental Governance Strategy to request feedback or commentary in the form of discussion or by email.
From listserv, to forum, to a large community of practice, FRAMEweb continues to add new features. It also produces and shares blogs, newsletters, and webinars. “I am a regular reader of [FRAMEweb] information and publications,” says a practitioner from Politicas Ambientales in Quito, Ecuador. “It is of great technical quality, very current, and serves us greatly to be aware of various conservation issues and sustainable development.”
Over the past two years, FRAMEweb’s publications and webinars have covered emerging topics in food security, extractive industries, health and conservation, land tenure, and peace-building, collaborating with USAID partners including the African Biodiversity Conservation Group, Conservation International, Environmental Law Institute, World Resources Institute, and the World Bank.
“One of the things I’m proud of as part of USAID is its commitment to FRAMEweb over the long term to build its strengths, and among partners, to look at FRAMEweb as a full site for information sharing,” said Tim Resch of USAID’s Africa Bureau.
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