5.2. Advocacy Coalitions Composition
The advocacy coalitions are composed of different actors from government and private organizations, with common interest or agenda and engage in a non-trivial degree of coordinated activities over time [12
]. The Indigenous Coalition, the Environmentalist Coalition, and the Business Coalition are competing for government attention for the formulation of FMRP.
5.2.1. Indigenous Coalition
The Indigenous Coalition is comprised of actors with indigenous interests and concerns at heart. The passion to uphold and promote indigenous interests propelled the formation of this coalition. The landowners are the most important actors of this coalition. Landowners includes owners of the land in which the mining activities are conducted, as well as other landowners from other parts of Fiji. As explained by the Ministry of ‘iTaukei
’ Affairs, all indigenous Fijians are entitled to enrol in the Native Lands Registry, a record of surveyed indigenous land boundaries stipulating owners by province [45
Another critical member of the coalition is the ‘iTaukei
’ Land Trust Board (TLTB). TLTB is mandated to administer and protect indigenous rights to land ownership and facilitate commercial transactions that revolve around indigenous land use and negotiates all leases and license agreements on behalf of the landowners [46
Another influential member of the indigenous coalition is the SODELPA, a political party heavily dominated by indigenous Fijians that promotes indigenous interests. It was formed in 2013, after the dissolution of its former name ‘Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
’ (SDL; a Fijian phrase meaning the united alliance of the people of Fiji). The dissolution of SDL was due to the requirement by the electoral office that all political parties contesting the 2014 general elections be registered in English only [47
]. Currently, SODELPA is supported by the majority of the indigenous population in Fiji and also leads the opposition segment in parliament. Having SODELPA as the opposition in parliament is an important platform for the Indigenous Coalition as this is an avenue where indigenous interests can be expressed after the dissolvement of GCC.
’ (natural resources) Management Support Team (YMST) established in the various provinces in Fiji is another crucial member of the Indigenous Coalition. The YMST initiatives were established in 2010 with the sole purpose to support existing natural resource initiatives carried out in the provinces and to raise concerns to relevant authorities [48
]. Different provinces have different YMST establishments. Some are organised at provincial level, some at district level and some at the village level. This is a very powerful platform, as it recognises and encourages the participation of the communities in natural resource management initiatives.
The most vigorous members of the Indigenous Coalition are the Youth Groups. Since the beginning of mining exercises in Bua and Namosi, the youth groups of the two provinces are very active in participating in conservation programs organized by government and non-government agencies and assisting in educating and informing villagers about the importance of managing natural resource prudently. As reported by Silaitoga [49
], the youth network works very closely with the chiefs of the provinces concerning development issues, especially the need to obtain consensus from the landowners for the use of their natural resources for development purposes without any undue influence [49
]. There are other actors in the Indigenous Coalition but the landowners, TLTB, SODELPA, YMST and the Youth Groups are the most stable ones.
The deep, core beliefs of the indigenous coalition include: (a) the review of the existing Fiji Mining Act to restore the land and natural resources ownership to the landowners. Currently, the landowners only have the right to use the land and natural resources but the state owns them all [50
] and; (b) landowners should have the larger share of the mineral royalty policy to compensate the vast environmental degradation caused by mining.
The policy core beliefs of the Indigenous Coalition include: (a) only those registered in the Native Lands Register are entitled to receive any royalty payments and; (b) the increase in land rentals and lease rates in line with the current market price. The secondary aspect of the Indigenous Coalition includes: (a) government and investors follow the ‘free prior informed consent
’ concept to obtain consent from landowners. This requires landowners to be thoroughly informed and consulted at all stages of the development phases. As experienced in many cases in Fiji, consents are obtained from only a particular member of the clan and not all members as required; (b) adequate time should be given to landowners to decide on the agreement of the development initiatives in their land. Apparently, to obtain consent for Bua bauxite mining, the Standing Committee on Natural Resources Report [20
] stated that landowners were given only thirty (30) minutes to decide on the agreement. In fact, to expedite obtaining consent from the Bua landowners, government executed the compulsory acquisition in the name of development and public purpose [51
]. This is such an unfair practice because landowners were not appropriately informed and very limited time were allocated to consolidate agreements.
The strategies utilized by the Indigenous Coalition to advocate beliefs include the following: (a) raise indigenous interests in parliament through analytical debates; (b) forum shopping through participation in government and non-government meetings, workshops, conferences etc.; (c) provide natural resource management training and awareness to indigenous communities; (d) request the formulation of FMRP to determine the fair share of royalty payments between government and landowners; (e) express indigenous interests and concerns through social media and blogs.
5.2.2. Environmentalist Coalition
The second coalition is the Environmentalist Coalition comprising mainly non-governmental conservation and environmental organizations. The first member is the Fiji Environmental Law Association (FELA). Promoting sustainable management of natural resources by the use of law is the primary mandatory of FELA and the association was established with the backing of International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) [52
]. Furthermore, Fiji have existing environmental laws, however, these laws are not effective or well enforced, hence, FELA tries to appropriate this drawback [52
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is another crucial member of the Environmental Coalition. The IUCN members are from the public sector and also from the various existing civil society organizations that provides proficiencies and mechanisms to promote human progress, economic development and most importantly the conservation of nature to the public, private and non-governmental organizations [53
]. The World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) is also the member of the Environmentalist Coalition. Its objectives are to promote conservation and the prudent management of natural resources particularly the marine environment [54
]. The Conservation International-Fiji (CI) is another important member of the Environmental Coalition and is responsible for securing the environment that provides food, and fresh water essential for livelihoods [55
]. NatureFiji-MareqetiViti (NFMV) is also another important member of the Environmentalist Coalition and is mandated to improve biodiversity and the conservation of habitats, protecting endangered species and lastly encourages the sustainable use of natural resources in Fiji by effective collaborative conservation initiatives, raising awareness, providing education, conducting research and exchanging information regarding biodiversity [56
]. Another crucial member of the Environmentalist Coalition is BirdLife International (BI), who responsible for the conservation of birds and their habitats from a global biodiversity perspective and engaging people with regards to the sustainable use of natural resources [57
The Fiji-Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) is another important member of the coalition. Fiji-LMMA is a non-government organization that works very closely with government agencies, academic institutions and about four hundred communities in efforts to promote and encourage the preserving, protecting and the using of marine resources in Fiji in a sustainable manner [58
]. The last member of the Environmentalist Coalition is the University of the South Pacific (USP), solely responsible for conducting environmental research, reporting findings for public information and enlightenment, and offering environmental studies qualifications. The members of this coalition all have the passion to conserve and protect the natural environment. This coalition is the most resourceful coalition as it has the technical, finance and human resource capacity to implement conservation initiatives. It is their effective collaborations with the indigenous communities and the government that has enabled the successful implementation of various environment projects and programs.
The deep core belief of the Environmentalist Coalition are as follows: (a) promote prudent natural resources management to ensure providence accommodate the needs of the current and future generations; (b) empower communities by providing financial, technical and human resource resources to implement environmental projects and programs. These also assist Fiji to passively contribute towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Millennium Development Goals. The policy core beliefs of the coalition include: (a) promote sustainable development; (b) establish reliable monitoring mechanisms to monitor development initiatives and they impacts on the environment and livelihood. The secondary aspect of the coalition is strengthening the enforcement of environmental laws in Fiji.
The strategies undertaken by the Environmental Coalitions to advance beliefs are as follows: (a) provide training, educational and awareness programs to the communities; (b) provide funds for the implementation of conservation initiatives at community base; (c) conduct research in areas which are considered an environmental concern, and provide vital information about the research to the general public for enlightenment; (d) provide environmental studies to the general public; and (e) participate in cross-coalition interactions by providing valuable advice to the government of the day and encouraging community participation concerning environment and conservation initiatives.
5.2.3. Business Coalition
The third coalition is the Business Coalition. This coalition is comprised of the Ministry of Lands, particularly the Department of Mineral and Resources, the two mining companies Shangdong Xinfa Aluminum and Electricity Group and the Namosi Joint Venture, Investment Fiji, and other investors and developers.
As explained by the Ministry of Lands and Mineral Resources [59
], the ministry is responsible for administering a total of eighteen thousand State Land leases that comprises of four percent of the current total land mass in Fiji and the Department of Mineral and Resources is to oversee the development of groundwater resources in Fiji (groundwater assessment & borehole drilling), conduct chemical and microbiological analysis of groundwater, provide geological hazard information and technical services to the public, and geo-hazard assessment through geotechnical test-hole drilling.
Another member of the Business Coalition is Investment Fiji, solely responsible to promote investment opportunities to investors both internationally and locally in order to develop existing industries and enterprises to boost the exports of Fiji’s goods and services [60
]. The mining companies that conduct mining in Bua and Namosi are also important members of the Business Coalition. China’s Shangdong Xinfa Aluminum and Electricity Group, also known as Xinfa conducted bauxite mining in Bua [21
] and the Namosi Joint Venture is currently conducting copper explorations in Namosi [61
]. There are other investors and developers in the coalition, but for the purpose of this case, this two mining companies are considered because of their role in the mining activities in Bua and Namosi.
The deep core policy beliefs of the Business Coalition are: (a) stimulate economic growth; (b) all minerals belong to the Government as articulate in the Fiji Mining Act Cap 146 and Section 30(1) of the 2013 Fiji Constitution [51
]. The coalition’s core policy beliefs include: (a) provide attractive incentives to investors; (b) government should get the larger share of mineral royalty payments because the money will be utilized for the development of the whole country and not to a one particular ethnic group. The secondary aspects of the Business Coalition include: (a) the execution of compulsory acquisition in the name of development and public purpose to eliminate hindrances to development [50
]; (b) achieve sustainable development at all times.
The various strategies undertaken by the coalition to advance core beliefs include, the formulation and amendments of new and existing policies, decrees, regulations, legislations, and acts, and active participation in government and non-governmental meetings, workshops, conferences etc., and in radio and television talkback shows.
5.3. Resource Dependencies among Advocacy Coalitions in Agenda Setting
Agenda setting is the politics of choosing issues for agile consideration [62
]. Furthermore, agenda setting is the outcome of an effective collaborations of a society by the political and social institutions to expound the validity of the difficulties and the variety of adequate expositions [63
]. This raises the importance of problem definition in policy process. As Rochefort and Cobb [64
] explained problem definition is pertinent to identifying public issues and the manner in which these public issues are presumed and discussed. Weiss [65
] further elaborated that problem definition is equivalent to, but diverse from, agenda setting. Problem definition is perturbed with the formation of a set of details, beliefs, and conceptions in how people perceive circumstances. Agenda setting denotes the course in which problems become public considerations at specific periods and venues [65
]. Reich [66
] also mentioned that the most crucial factor of political debate is not the evaluation of other expositions to the problems, but the manner in which problems are defined.
In this case, in order to advance policy beliefs and to attain agenda setting, coalitions should gain sufficient support, and the definitions of FMRP elements by each coalition will generate the much-needed support. It is quite evident that the three coalitions—the Indigenous, the Environmentalists and the Business Coalitions—have very diverse problem definitions regarding FMRP. Each coalition has defined the problems by exhibiting deep core beliefs, policy core beliefs, secondary aspects and strategies. While the Indigenous Coalition defined the FMRP problems emphasizing the repercussions of mining to the environment and the livelihoods of the people, the Environmentalist Coalition defined FMRP problems by emphasizing the importance of attaining sustainable development and prudent natural resource management. Disparately, the Business Coalition is more economic growth driven and focusses more on precedent measures to maximize utilization of current resources to generate wealth.
Each coalition has important components that other coalitions necessitate in order to operate effectively. The Indigenous Coalitions are landowners and are rich in natural resources. The Environmentalist Coalition is very well resourced and has the financial, technical and human resource capacity to implement environmental policies, programs and projects. On the other hand, the Business Coalition has the upper hand of being the government of the day and is responsible for the formulation of rules and regulations, and investors have the capacity to invest in the Fiji economy. By realizing the strengths of each coalition, there is a great need for coalitions to interact in order to share resources, information and expertise to attain determined objectives.
The Indigenous Coalition depends on the Business Coalition primarily for the provision of adequate public goods and services, business arrangements with potential investors to receive lease monies, mineral royalty payments and other entitlements for the use of their natural resources. The Indigenous Coalition also requires the Environmentalist Coalition’s resources to effectively participate and indulge in conservation initiatives and acquire the much-needed knowledge to practise prudent natural resources management.
The Environmentalist Coalition relies on the Business Coalition to regulate and enforce environmental laws, and to spearhead conservation initiatives through effective collaborations with other government agencies and line ministries. The Environmentalist Coalition also depends on the Indigenous Coalition to involve indigenous communities to participate in various conservation initiatives, which defines the core existence of their respective organization.
The Business Coalition is dependent on the Indigenous Coalition for the use of their natural resources to generate income for the economy. The Business Coalition also relies on the Environmentalist Coalition for valuable advice on sustainable development and most importantly the sharing of resources to effectively implement government environmental policies and programs.
Understanding the great level of dependency amongst the three coalitions illustrates the importance of and the great need for each coalition to interact and effectively collaborate for the advancement of core beliefs. Interactions can be in many forms. These can include collaborations in the implementation of programs, sharing of resources, engagement in dialogues and participation in debates and forum chats, workshops, meetings, seminars, conferences and many other more. Effective interactions pave the way for coalitions to reach common ground regarding various elements that should be captured in the FMRP. This require the three coalitions to compromise at some level to achieve the best exposition related to FMRP by incorporating critical core beliefs of each coalition. However, in this case, the political turmoil currently experienced by Fiji have greatly affect the acceptance of critical elements of FMRP. The impact of this political instability can infuriate coalitions, which can cause another civil unrest, if core beliefs are continually suppressed.