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Bringing the human factor in biodiversity on the agenda

Conference contribution
Authors Marie Stenseke
Published in The 5th iDiv Annual Conference, 29 - 30 August 2019 in Leipzig.
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Economy and Society, Unit for Human Geography
Department of Economy and Society
Language en
Keywords biodiversity, social sciences, landscape, IPBES
Subject categories Human Geography


It is well recognized in both academia and among policy makers that biological knowledge is not enough in order to come to grips with the loss of biodiversity and the decrease in nature’s contributions to people. For the development and implementation of sustainable solutions, insights about the human society and human aspects are crucially important. Yet, there is an apparent need to increase the understanding of how social sciences contribute to the knowledge base for dealing with biodiversity related challenges and crafting promising paths forward. My starting point is that our physical environment is a cultural landscape, inhabited by people and with human decisions and human activities largely decisive for its future form and qualities. Moreover, just as there are great biophysical variations across the globe, the local and regional contexts also vary significantly when it comes to socioeconomic aspects, demography, cultures, governing systems, links to national and global structures and processes etc. The globe can, hence, be regarded as a patchwork of overlapping neighborhoods, where biophysical and sociocultural features are integrated and co-evolves in every patch as well as on overarching levels. Consequently, and following UNs Agenda 2030, issues on nature conservation are interlinked with societal dimensions, why social science insights are needed not just to address biodiversity loss but also to simultaneously address other global societal goals, including the achievement of human well-being for all. Generally speaking, social science approaches to biodiversity and the management of land- and seascapes can be sorted into three broad categories: • Contextual: Providing social context, documenting variability and understanding norms and practices. What societal aspects influence the physical landscape and the processes of change? • Managerial: Examining how decision making and management can be arranged and processed. How to organize political and administrative structures? How to make decisions? How can we communicate? How to develop public participation? • Reflected (discursive): Showing how framings, concepts and categories matter. What” accepted truths” are at hand? How are nature, culture, drivers etc. defined? How have concepts and discourses changed over time? Who identifies the problems? Who decides? In my talk, I will particularly articulate the distinctive contributions of cultural environmental research which relates to all of these three categories. There will be a certain focus on qualitative research approaches, using examples from my own work on farmers and landscape, outdoor recreation and public participation in landscape management. I will also relate to my experiences as a member and co-chair of the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel, of the Intergovernmental science-policy platform on biodiversity and ecosystem services (IPBES), a core body tasked to overseeing all IPBES scientific and technical functions.

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Utskriftsdatum: 2019-11-14