Developing effective wellbeing indicators for people and nature: how biocultural approaches can facilitate sustainable management of social-ecological systems
Sterling, E., Sigouin, A., Betley, E., Pascua, P., Rivera, C., Toomey, A. and Gazit, N. (2018). Developing effective wellbeing indicators for people and nature: how biocultural approaches can facilitate sustainable management of social-ecological systems. 5th European Congress of Conservation Biology. doi: 10.17011/conference/eccb2018/107589
© the Authors, 2018
Biocultural approaches-those built from local values and knowledges-can be used to better understand and manage social-ecological systems. A biocultural approach to indicator development begins with an understanding of the locally-grounded questions and institutions related to resource management. This approach leads to development of well-being indicators for people and nature that are deeply relevant to a local way of life, are easily integrated into existing structures and cultural practices, and are useful for local management1,2. We present results from a comprehensive literature review and ongoing collaborations, aiming to answer: who is using indicators developed with a biocultural approach, in what context, why, and how? Standardized database searches resulted in ~4,500 resources, from which we identified over 50 fully-formed indicator sets and frameworks that specifically relate to both: 1) social-ecological systems, with both biological and cultural elements, and 2) resilience, adaptive capacity, or well-being. We performed quantitative (e.g., number of indicators and categories, geographic scale) and qualitative (e.g., assessing methods of indicator development and application) analyses; we also held workshops and visioning exercises with communities in the Pacific to gain perspective on local values and management priorities. We explore case studies, in both European and non-European contexts, where a biocultural approach has been successfully implemented. For instance, one such framework developed in Melanesia assesses crucial aspects of the "traditional economy," such as resource access, cultural practice, and community vitality, which are foundational to Melanesian people's well-being. We also identify discrepancies between local management priorities and the systems currently in place from national and international frameworks; for example, indicator sets that emphasize incentives (e.g., subsidies) can encourage accumulation of goods and currency without previously considering or acknowledging alternative local communities' values and worldviews, and thus potentially undermine traditional practices and sustainable production. Lastly, we discuss some of the limitations and challenges in using a biocultural approach for indicator development (e.g., measuring intangible cultural elements of a system, crafting indicators that can assess feedbacks, prohibitory costs, meaningful and equitable collaboration), and suggest potential solutions. Sterling, E. J., C. Filardi, J. Newell, A. Toomey, A. Sigouin, E. Betley, N. Gazit, et al. (2017). Biocultural approaches to well-being and sustainability indicators across scales. Nature Ecology & Evolution. 1(12): 1798. Sterling, E. J., T. Ticktin, T. Morgan, G. Cullman, D. Alvira, P. Andrade, N. Bergamini, et al. 2017. Culturally grounded indicators of resilience in social-ecological systems. Environment and Society 8:63-95. ...
PublisherOpen Science Centre, University of Jyväskylä
ConferenceECCB2018: 5th European Congress of Conservation Biology. 12th - 15th of June 2018, Jyväskylä, Finland
MetadataShow full item record
- ECCB 2018 
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