Pedro Walpole of Environmental Science for Social Change (ESSC) will be speaking at the UNESCO workshop on Sustainability Science in Kuala Lumpur, this 4th and 5th April. In this article, Pedro shares his thoughts on Sustainability Science and its importance in the context of ESSC’s work with rural communities in Mindanao.
Tag Archive for environmental science for social change
Sustainability science from the mountains: The Bendum Ecology and Culture Center in Mindanao, Philippines
This last May 22 marked the 2013 UN International Day of Biological Diversity, with the theme for this year being “Water and Biodiversity” so as to tie in with ongoing events in this “The International Year of Water Cooperation”. Biodiversity and ecosystem services are central to ourselves and our planets continued, sustainable existence.
The challenge is to learn from contrasting situations in Asia as to the social and environmental strategies for engaging communities. In ecosystems throughout Asia, socially acceptable systems are sought where governments were previously more focused on commercial and private rights. There is a long term need to engage communities and support them in building their capacity to manage resources.
It’s the growing season in tropical Asia with early harvests of rice in the lowlands and corn in the uplands. The memory of the two storms that caused area devastation in the Philippines at the beginning of the year has faded and the landscape looks one of abundance. Walking down the riverbeds and around the deltas, it is easy to see people getting on with their lives in ways that are covering up the scars of disaster: an ongoing environmental crisis of management. Environmental disaster is made worse by the economic crisis; the poor do not know how they will be next hit, by a returning jobless family member or another typhoon.
The global importance of forests and fear of any further widespread conversion impacting on climate and biodiversity is acknowledged internationally and cannot be ignored or afforded by the Philippines. Sustainability carries multiple and varied assumptions and people feel that any further change is loss as the stability of the natural system implicitly defines sustainability. Yet contradictions occur in society. Large scale exploitation of resources is for many economically evident and a must, while indigenous people practicing swidden is unacceptable. For others, the reverse is arguable. Sustainability is the balancing of change so that resources can be accessed while ecological services sustained and must include social and cultural equity.
Agroforestry is a new term learned by 24 Teduray youth who recently took part in a Bentela daw Sayuda activity, a Pulangiyen cultural mechanism of visiting (bentela) and sharing (sayuda) under ESSC’s Bridging Leadership in Mindanao project. The Teduray youth participants who joined the visit shared their problems in upland farming, such as pest control and management and the limited funds to purchase fertilizer and pesticides, and soil erosion and landslide occurrences in their areas.