Category Archives: Biosphere Reserves

Why biocultural resilience matters and what it can look like

It’s great to have this blog up as I am on a quest with Kevin Jones and others to accelerate business practices that restore and regenerate nature. Resilience offers a powerful frame to harness a convergence of new opportunities that I believe can allow us to greatly accelerate global sustainability and well-being.

http://www.stockholmresilience.org/21/research/what-is-resilience.html introduces what we mean by resilience. We are building from Stockholm Resilience Centre’s system’s approach to socio-ecological systems. We affirm a core value that human and environmental well-being are inter-dependent and inextricably linked.  We are working to consider the role of culture that binds people to one another, and manifests deeply in human’s material, social, and spiritual relationships with nature. Culture remains a poorly understood  dimension to well-being.

One manifestation of why this matters is the high correlation between regions with high concentrations of biodiversity and cultural integrity of Indigenous Peoples. While I am not suggesting there are ‘noble savages’, indigenous cultures have sustained biodiversity in contrast to western culture that has driven the consumption of nature to a point of planetary crisis.

In this context, we are looking at how business can be a lever for systems change with positive social and conservation outcomes. This can mean companies incorporate ecological restoration into their cost of doing business extending beyond payment for environmental services which are good but remain insufficient.

Among my most inspiring examples are companies that restore and regenerate nature. Will Raap’s work with Earth Partners removing invasive species that permits range land restoration while creating wood chips fueling an energy substitute to coal.

I am also inspired by Terracycle growing rapidly with a business proposition to eliminate the concept of waste. They have taken plastics recycling, upcycling and product redesign to a completely new level. They are delightfully disruptive but perhaps don’t best embody biocultural resilience.

I hope this blog can build upon a rather lively conversation we have been having on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BioCulturalResilienceTool providing a basis for a free flowing exchange uncovering a range of interesting resources and perspectives.

Biosphere Entrepreneurship – An Approach To Supporting Human Well-being and Ecological Resilience” reflects the work of one of our project partners that manages the Lake Vanern Biosphere Reserve in Sweden who has been diligently developing and applying a strategy to foster local business activity that contribute to the Biosphere’s conservation objectives which encompass natural, cultural, and economic dimensions.  As a non-profit, this project has also become a source of funding and constituency building. Thus, there are many benefits for non-profit conservation practitioners to adopt this approach, but it first requires value alignment which can unleash very powerful possibilities.

What can investing in biocultural resilience look like? Sweden’s Lake Vanern was restored from a highly polluted place to a healthy place for people and planet. This included identifying cultural assets and traditional knowledge that can be leveraged to build well-being for people and planet. And, this involved the non-profit biosphere manager together with local public officials convening public-private partnerships that supported actively expanding high value fish products with ancient native fishing communities – caviar for the planet!

Our project partner, Johanna MacTaggart, who is the Lake Vanern Biosphere Manager offers a translated VIP visit with native fisherfolk that offers a glimpse of what building biocultural resilience can look like.

Together, we are building innovative approaches to catalyze a way of thinking and analytical framework that uncovers poorly understood business risk and opportunity. However, we also need many others to join us including donors, protected area managers, public agencies and academia. Systems change requires many actors and we believe harnessing business can be a very powerful driver…to build the world we want.

We are building an open platform to support and encourage broad participation and engagement. We welcome ideas, learnings, and collaborations from all sectors. We welcome you to join us especially if you are committed to learning, using your voice and influence, as well as taking action.

Stay tuned for more as we turn our attention most immediately to fish, oceans and the blue economy.

Shaun Paul