Reflections from the Tuesday theme plenary session “C3: Approaches for fostering biosphere stewardship”

Biosphere stewardship is about humans recognizing that they are part of and indeed dependent on the biosphere to maintain their own well-being. When humans recognize that, they are also responsible for the sustainable use and protection of the living systems we depend on. But what kind of knowledge systems, values, management practices, behaviour and governance arrangements could help foster this biosphere stewardship?

Unai Pascual from the Basque Center for Climate Change, Spain, and Emily McKenzie from the Natural Capital Project, US, gave their thoughts on the issue. They highlighted the benefits of incorporating relational values in ecosystem assessments.
Ecosystem assessments usually measure, map and assess how changes in ecosystems affect human well-being. Incorporating all stakeholders in this process is essential for a sound assessment since different stakeholders come with a different set of values to the decision-making process.

Societies, groups of people, stakeholders and individuals value things that matter to them from an instrumental point of view but there are also other values that are based on cultural principles underpinning certain types of relations such as altruism or solidarity.

Why are these relational values important in biodiversity stewardship? Well, they are in many cases our main motivation for conservation of nature. That is why non-conservationist people alike want to protect the tree that their parents planted or the patch of forest where they believe their God lives.

A key point is that measuring relational values need to recognize the plurality and differences in values across cultures. Another interesting point is that protection of nature in a place could entail place a burden elsewhere. What if protecting our childhood favourite forest imply logging to depletion other patch of forest? What if on top of that, the depleted forest is a sacred forest for other group of people?

A main challenge is to design incentive mechanisms crowd in pro-social behaviour and equity and novel methods for assessment.

The session ended with a call for reflection about power relations, understanding of trade-offs in values, strategies to solve conflicts in navigating trade-offs and implications for resilience.

Who would like to start tackling these?

Inspiring readings and references
Pascual, U., Palomo, I., Adams, W., et al. (2017). Off-stage ecosystem service burdens: A blind spot for global sustainability. Environmental Research Letters. DOI (10.1088/1748-9326/aa7392)

Pascual, U., Palomo, I., Adams, W., Chan, K., Daw, T., Garmendia, E., Gómez-Baggethun, E., de Groot, R., Mace, G., Martín-López, B., Phelps, J. (2017). Off-stage ecosystem service burdens: A blind spot for global sustainability. Environmental Research Letters. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aa7392

Folke, C., Biggs, R. Norström A.V., et al. (2016). Social-ecological resilience and biosphere-based sustainability science. Ecology and Society 21(3):41 (http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-08748-210341).

Chan, K., Balvanera, P., Benessaiah, K., et al. (2016). Why Protect Nature? Rethinking Values and the Environment. PNAS 113(6): 1462–1465. doi:10.1073/pnas.1525002113.

Your Resilience2017 correspondent:

Noelia Zafra-Calvo is a transdisciplinary conservation social scientist. Her work aims to understand the human and social dimensions that enhance or hamper nature conservation. She is currently a postdoc at the Center for Macroecology, Evolution and Climate (University of Copenhagen). Noelia moved from systematic conservation planning approaches to focus mostly on including social justice in conservation after ten years of professional experience working with multiple non academic actors in African countries.

 

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