Burning Assets? Designing Wood Fuel Energy Strategies in Mozambique: 2MBio a Novel Participatory Model to Promote Creativity and Knowledge as Strategic Assets

Burning Assets? Designing Wood Fuel Energy Strategies in Mozambique: 2MBio a Novel Participatory Model to Promote Creativity and Knowledge as Strategic Assets

Ricardo Martins (CEG-IST, Portugal)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 26
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0651-5.ch019
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Getting wood for cooking, heating, processing into charcoal and/or selling is a fundamental part of most household survival strategies in Developing Countries. Entangling in complex and dynamic ways local and global ecosystems, poverty, technology and business Wood Fuel Energy Systems (WES) are fundamental and require simple to use design tools to support the strategic and optimised used of available socio-ecological resources/assets. However, there are very few tools able to support relevant actors (e.g. charcoal makers, experts, policy makers) in that task. To bridge that gap the 2MBio, a participatory conceptual design tool to support the strategic design of WES, is introduced and its practical results in Mozambique presented. The 2MBio explicit in a simple and intuitive layout the set of necessary and sufficient resources/assets required to produce comprehensive and meaningful WES designs/strategies, which represent in themselves a strategic asset, while further stimulates knowledge and creativity as a tacit asset.
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Bioenergy (the energy from biomass) represents an estimated 10% of all energy consumed in the world, 50% of all energy consumed in Developing Countries (DCs) (IEA 2006) and around 70% in Mozambique (Vas et al. 2011). Besides being central to the life of millions of households, bioenergy systems based on wood, i.e., wood fuel energy systems (WES), also poses complex and crucial social, technical, economical and ecological challenges for sustainability, livelihoods, resource management and policy making (§2.1). Despite this complexity, most policies and approaches developed for WES are based on top-down deliberate strategies, and limited economic views on resources. Particularly preeminent is the “energy transition paradigm” which labelling the current WES practices and technology as “traditional”, “dirt” and damaging for the environment, promotes a “technological leap” towards technologies deemed to be “modern”, clean and “green”. In basic terms, these rationalist decision-making approaches assume that complexity can be simplified and that best decisions can be made based on the optimised use of assets seen as constant and objectively understood by all actors equally (§2.2). Thus, most political and technical strategies in DC had been focusing on “HOW” to make this transition to take place, rather than work with “WHAT” make people do, think and act while dwelling and making strategic decision everyday on WES. There are more contextualised and constructivist alternatives to this positivist paradigm, like the Community Based Natural Resources Management (CBNRM), the Participatory Modelling or other generic design methodologies. However, these are not specific to WES and being too contextualised fail to provide a common base for comparison and generic strategy development.

In face of these gaps and the lack of useful strategic design tools this chapter reframed WES policies and practices as a strategic design problem on complex socio-ecological systems (§3), and consequently applied strategy thinking, systems thinking, design thinking and more contextualised views on assets to justify and specify a novel tool for the strategy design of WES, the 2MBio (§3).

The 2MBio is a novel participatory conceptual design tool, the, which favours participation, learning, knowledge sharing and innovation. Presented in a simple intuitive low-tech layout of 13 boxes in a paper (Figure 5), the 2MBio makes explicit “WHAT” are the necessary and sufficient basic (ontological) conceptual design elements (the 13 boxes) one has to think about when tanking about the conceptual design of biomass energy systems. Focusing on “what to consider” within a structured perspective (the layout of 13 boxes), the 2MBio is not normative or prescriptive, neither it is totally subjective. Rather, like a basic set of LEGOTM blocks shared by all, the 2MBio simultaneously provides:

  • 1.

    A formalised common space for dialogue;

  • 2.

    Allows participants to express their knowledge and experience on the “WHY” and “HOW” to address problems and solutions; and

  • 3.

    Facilitates participatory conceptual design of comprehensive and integrated strategies, policies, projects and solutions on WES.

In practical terms the 2MBio is used in participatory design workshops, where the participants are invited to write or draw on those design elements what to do, how and why, making explicit and available to discussion the tacit and implicit knowledge.

The chapter ends with the presentation and analysis of several results of a study conducted in Mozambique, where graphical evidence is provided on how the use of the 2MBio expanded the perspectives on assets, design and strategy around WES, produced a number of innovative, comprehensive and meaningful conceptual designs of sustainable WES for Mozambique (§3.2), and further shows how the 2MBio once filled by the users constitutes, in itself, a strategic asset for future designs and strategies (§2.3).

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