As a multi-dimensional endeavour, sustainable governance of socio-ecological systems requires the engagement of both expert and non-expert stakeholders. This paper shares learning from a multi-vocal assessment study of a participatory monitoring project, Mountain Environmental Virtual Observatory (M-EVO), implemented in the Peruvian Andes by an interdisciplinary research consortium.
The project explicitly aimed to innovate participatory knowledge generation in order to build on the experiences of local communities in understanding the dynamics of mountain ecosystems and to generate evidence to support adaptation pathways to improved livelihoods. Our results advance the theory and practice of participatory impact assessment, questioning the fixed management approach and calling for a more reflexive and flexible use of assessment tools. At the same time, we shed light on development narratives and their power to shape stakeholders’ perceptions in accordance with their assumptions and expectations. This is of special importance for ecosystem governance projects, sensitive to cultural bias and subject to competing trade-offs.