Lindsay C. Stringer
Policy and research into human-environment interactions tends to treat people as separate from, rather than part of nature, even when applying a socio-ecological systems lens. This conceptualisation has important implications in terms of how we do research, what we reveal through science-policy assessments such as those undertaken for the Intergovernmental science-policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, and how we monitor and evaluate progress towards international sustainability aspirations such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It also affects how we consider issues of fairness and equity. This presentation argues that current approaches can miss opportunities to improve human wellbeing and equity while simultaneously reducing and reversing degradation. It draws on recent work in Kenya involving restoration of areas affected by invasive cactus Opuntia stricta, which explicitly focused on understanding equity and viewed humans as part of rather than external to the system. Rethinking the role of people in efforts to protect and restore the environment is vital in informing science and political action towards socio-ecological restoration if outcomes are to support both environmental and socio-economic improvement.
Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program