ABOUT THE WORKSHOP

In a world of accelerated global environmental change, biocultural diversity plays a crucial role in maintaining the resilience of social-ecological systems (Gómez-Baggethun et al. 2013). Biocultural diversity includes the diversity of life, human cultures, and languages (Maffi 2005). It emerges from the close interactions among biological and cultural diversity (Toledo 2013). The links between biological, cultural and linguistic diversity have developed over time through mutual adaptation and possibly co-evolution (Maffi 2005).

Biocultural diversity has been shown to be critical for the long-term maintenance of biodiversity (Toledo 2013). Many hotspots of biological diversity match well with areas with highest cultural diversity (Gorenflo et al. 2012). Local knowledge and community-based conservation have been shown to be closely interlinked (Ruiz-Mallén and Corbera 2013). Communities who depend directly on natural resources have developed practices, institutions, and knowledge to adapt to social and environmental changes (Folke et al. 2003); and many of these hold precious knowledge of how biological and cultural diversity can enhance the ability of societies to cope with present and future global changes (Toledo 2003, Ruiz-Mallén and Corbera 2013).

Understanding the role that biocultural diversity plays in the resilience of social-ecological systems will inform on pathways towards ensuring resilience within the anthropocene (Gómez-Baggethun et al. 2013). Such understanding can also contribute to elucidating aspects of the current and fast evolution of biocultural diversity and the growing threats associated with cultural erosion (Brosi et al. 2007). Assessing lessons learned and elaborating on future perspectives towards navigating such rapid changes and fostering sustainability from the interplay between biocultural diversity and social-ecological resilience are most urgently needed.

Unique opportunities emerge from collaborative learning among practitioners from indigenous and non-indigenous communities, scientists and policy makers around the connections between biocultural diversity and resilience as ways to identify and foster good governance for social-ecological systems.

The dialogue among different social actors working at different scales in the global north and the global south on the current roles, challenges, and future alternatives for biocultural diversity as a key element of social-ecological resilience can inform local, national, regional and global policy processes. The identification of lessons learned from the ground by biocultural diversity knowledge holders can further enrich the search for future alternatives by policy makers, scientists and practitioners for the safe navigation of social-ecological systems.

A particularly promising setting for such dialogues is the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, one of the areas of the world with the most prominent biocultural diversity (Camacho-Benavides et al. 2013). While conserving an important fraction of its biocultural diversity, Oaxaca has been subjected to important cultural and governance changes fostered, among other drivers, by rural out-migration (Robson and Berkes 2011). This area is also the home to several local initiatives that promote the conservation of biocultural diversity and the co-creating of knowledge and institutions towards its maintenance. The celebration of the international conference of the Programme for Ecosystem Change and Society in November 2017 (PECS 2017, www.pecii.org), in the city of Oaxaca, provides a unique opportunity to highlight the biocultural diversity of Oaxaca and for creating a fruitful space for interactions among diverse actors. Specifically, these dialogues will contribute to the ongoing search for new opportunities or promising seeds for the Anthropocene (Bennett et al. 2016).

Finally, this initiative will contribute to the achievement of the key objectives of the UNESCO-SCBD joint programme that seeks to increase awareness about the links between cultural and biological diversity in natural resource management and decision-making processes, as well as for the resilience of social-ecological systems. In particular, the initiative will contribute to the achievement of the objective number five, which is to support and foster learning networks on bio-cultural approaches, linking grassroots and community initiatives with local, national, regional and global policy processes (www.cbd.int/lbcd/).

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redsocioecos.org 

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