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Revisiting the relationships between human well-being and ecosystems in dynamic social-ecological systems: Implications for stewardship and development
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6635-9153
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2019 (English)In: Global Sustainability, E-ISSN 2059-4798, Vol. 2, article id e8Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Non-technical summary We argue that the ways in which we as humans derive well-being from nature - for example by harvesting firewood, selling fish or enjoying natural beauty - feed back into how we behave towards the environment. This feedback is mediated by institutions (rules, regulations) and by individual capacities to act. Understanding these relationships can guide better interventions for sustainably improving well-being and alleviating poverty. However, more attention needs to be paid to how experience-related benefits from nature influence attitudes and actions towards the environment, and how these relationships can be reflected in more environmentally sustainable development projects. Technical summary In the broad literatures that address the linked challenge of maintaining ecosystem integrity while addressing poverty and inequality, there is still a need to investigate how linkages and feedbacks between ecosystem services and well-being can be taken into account to ensure environmental sustainability and improved livelihoods. We present a conceptual model towards a dynamic and reciprocal understanding of the feedbacks between human well-being and ecosystems. The conceptual model highlights three mechanisms through which people derive benefits from ecosystems (use, money and experience), and illustrates how these benefits can affect values, attitudes and actions towards ecosystems. Institutions and agency determine access to and distribution of benefits and costs, and also present barriers or enabling factors for individual or collective action. The conceptual model synthesises insights from existing but mostly separate bodies of literature on well-being and the benefits humans derive from ecosystems, and reveals gaps and areas for future research. Two case studies illustrate how recognizing the full feedback loop between how ecosystems support human well-being and how people behave towards those ecosystems, as well as intervention points within the loop, can guide better action for sustainable poverty alleviation and stewardship of the biosphere. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 2, article id e8
Keywords [en]
ecosystem services, human behaviour, policies, politics and governance
National Category
Other Social Sciences Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-178213DOI: 10.1017/S205947981900005XScopus ID: 2-s2.0-85067282185OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-178213DiVA, id: diva2:1387181
Available from: 2020-01-20 Created: 2020-01-20 Last updated: 2020-03-05Bibliographically approved

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Masterson, Vanessa A.Daw, Tim M.Selomane, OdirilweWong, Grace Y.Tengö, Maria
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