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Societal responses to biodiversity changes

The conservation of biodiversity has become increasingly subject to the choices human societies make. There is now virtually not a single place on Earth that is safe from the direct or indirect impacts of human activities. Strengthening engagement of science in decision making requires close understanding of and involvement in complex human societies and their governance systems. In an attempt to enhance human societies' capacity to adapt to detrimental biodiversity changes, ecoSERVICES supported two projects that investigated societal responses to environmental change:


Building resilience with common capital

Managing shared resources: meeting the challenges of a rapidly modernising world under climate and ecosystems change

This project is a joint endeavour between IHDP, DIVERSITAS, the Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research (APN), and the United Nations University – Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP). It aims at identifying new integrated and collective governance and management systems of mosaic landscapes – new "commons" – overseeing the supply of ecosystem services and enhancement of socio-ecological resilience against climate and ecosystem changes in an efficient and equitable manner across a range of stakeholders.

This project organised three workshops to develop a conceptual framework to manage a bundle of ecosystem services, contributing to human well-being, without crossing biodiversity and ecosystems thresholds. The development of this conceptual framework is based on case studies from the Asia-Pacific region, and especially from Japan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Thailand.



Anantha Duraiappah, IHDP and Anne-Hélène Prieur-Richard, DIVERSITAS



Workshops: Building Resilience with Common Capital: Managing Shared Resources

  • First workshop: 23-25 Jan 2012, Tokyo, Japan
  • Second workshop: 28-30 May 2012, Colombo, Sri Lanka
  • Third workshop: 3-5 Dec 2012, Kobe, Japan

The workshops aimed at discussing characteristics of a "new commons framework" based on case studies from the Asia-Pacific region. Participants were multi-disciplinary scientists and policy-makers some of whom made presentations on their work related to managing shared resources and meeting the combined challenges of climate and ecosystem changes in Japan and Thailand. The three workshops developed a governance framework for New Commons.



Advancing Conservation in a Social Context

Advancing Conservation in a Social Context (ACSC) was a project endorsed by DIVERSITAS.

ACSC was a 4-year initiative (2007-2011; funded by the MacArthur Foundation) that provided guidance for the advancement of conservation in a way that took into consideration the possibility of conflict and contradiction both within conservation, and between conservation and other social goals. It did so by focusing attention on trade-offs in development, and biodiversity conservation and maintenance of ecosystem services (see ACSC reference library for literature on the topic). The rationale for trade-off thinking and analysis was that trade-offs among different conservation goals and between conservation and other social goals are the norm and their early, explicit recognition can lead to more sustainable or resilient conservation outcomes. Yet, it remains rare that the full range of trade-offs are acknowledged in negotiations between stakeholders or explicitly discussed as conservation interventions are undertaken. The win-win paradigm that prevails in many conservation programmes has the unfortunate consequence of creating unrealistic and frustrated expectations from programme outcomes.

ASCS questioned how analysis and communication regarding trade-offs within conservation, and between conservation and other social goals should proceed and more effectively address the complexity of the social context. Its objective was to improve the ability of key actors to identify, analyse, and negotiate conservation and development trade-offs.

The initiative combined the analysis of three countries’ national context (Peru, Tanzania and Vietnam), case studies of policy interventions, field initiatives, and a series of local, national, and global-level thematic workshops. Participants in ACSC represented several leading national and international environmental organisations, academia (including scholars from the humanities), government and interdisciplinary conservation and sustainability practitioners. ACSC improved the understanding of the world in which conservation decisions are made at the international, national and local levels. Three major outputs were the ACSC Guiding Principles, nine Key Factors core to understanding and acting upon conservation and development trade-offs and the ACSC Integrative Framework that were designed to provide a preliminary foundation for the understanding, analysis and discussion of trade-offs in conservation programmes.



Thomas O. McShane and Ann Kinzig, Arizona State University, USA

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