I am following a current discussion in humanitarian work whether the term "beneficiaries" should be used for those who are recipients of humanitarian assistance. Perspectives include that this term can lead to the assumption that the recipient is passive and that the aid provided was beneficial. Encouraged alternative terms included "participants" or "affected communities". Are you, as an individual conservationists or within your conservation organisations currently having similar conversations? Which terms are you using that you could share? Thanks for your help!
Please find some perspectives that I picked up on below.
Words by Rahul Mitra, Humanitarian Lead for Oxfam in the Pacific :
Simply put, the word "beneficiary" implies that an individual or a community is a passive recipient of aid, and that the aid provided was beneficial. Oftentimes, these are both incorrect assumptions to make. Additionally, referring to a recipient of assistance as a "beneficiary" upholds power dynamics and does not promote systems of accompaniment where the group needing assistance is seen as an equal to those providing it. Let’s remove the word "beneficiary" from our vocabulary and instead use words like “participants” or "affected community" or "affected population".
Other people, who work in nature conservation responded to this message. For example, Barbara Nakangu, Programme Manager, Voices for Climate Change-WWF NL:
I also cringe when I hear the words "we help them" by development workers, it connotes a saviour mentality. I rather words like "partner or work with" to acknowledge people's dignity and agency.