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The need for new approaches to natural resource management arises from the relatively new, problematic demands posed by the concept of sustainable development. This chapter examines these changes through the outcomes of two major United Nations conferences.
The importance of information, integration and participation are noted. Next an outline is provided of the way in which science has changed to involve people more closely in research and development.
Particular attention is paid to the challenges being posed for science as it seeks to more explicitly deal with the human dimension of natural resource management. The potential for adaptive management as an approach to more closely link research with management and policy is discussed.
Finally this chapter outlines some key social and institutional barriers to achieving this potential. Everything has been said about development, but almost everything remains to be said and therefore to be explored or rediscovered, because incontestably, almost everything remains to be done.
Over the past three decades, 'development theorizing has progressed beyond economic parameters based on gross domestic product GDP per capita growth, and even the conventional social indicators of literacy, life expectancy and caloric intake While conventional approaches to agriculture have in the past tended to employ narrow economic or productivity criteria to measure their success, today the questions have been broadened to simultaneously evaluate the health of relevant systems in terms of ecology, ethics and equity Dahlberg p.
These major changes in the way the issues of economic growth, human development and environmental protection are approached can be highlighted through the outcomes of two major United Nations conferences.
The Conference on the Human Environment, held in Stockholm inprovided for the first major discussion of environmental issues at the international level.
The subsequent increase in public awareness and understanding of the fragility of the environment was one of the most successful outcomes from Stockholm.
However, while it succeeded in placing environmental concerns on the international political agenda, the environment still remained a marginal issue. In particular, little was done to give practical effect to the integration of environment and development in economic policy and decision making, and the health of the planet continued to deteriorate at an unprecedented rate Wynberg p.
In response the World Commission on Environment and Development was established during the s by the United Nations to examine strategies and means by which the world community could deal more effectively with environmental concerns. The resulting report, Our Common Future better known as the Brundtland Report was published in by the World Commission on Environment and Development, and set out the concept of 'sustainable development' as an integrated approach to policy and decision making in which environmental protection and long-term economic development are seen not as incompatible, but as complementary.
The Commission's definition of sustainable development is most often quoted as 'development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs' World Commission on Environment and Development, p.
This must be acknowledged as expressing an ideal. For instance, there is no general agreement on what constitutes the needs of the present, let alone those of the future.
Nonetheless, the publication of this report highlighted 'sustainable development' as a political reality, and gave rise to an international consultation process that culminated in the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development UNCEDheld at Rio de Janeiro in But among its successes must be counted the recognition of the mutual dependencies between North and South, as well as the clear acknowledgement that the causes of environmental decay are more significant than the effects Wynberg p.
New pathways were opened for public participation in intergovernmental communications, allowing for increased communication and co-operation between governmental and non-governmental organisations.
Indeed, Rio provided a clear role and responsibility for all sections of society, with the recurring message that 'real change is most likely to come with the involvement of ordinary people' Wynberg p. Linking information, integration and participation As the Report of the Secretary-General highlights, a comparison of the action plans produced by the Stockholm and Rio conferences illustrates a major shift in our understanding of, and approach to, the problems of long-term human development.
Agenda 21, the action plan that emerged from the UNCED process, represents a statement of willingness to strive for a form of development that recognises the linkages between economic growth, social equity and protection of the environment. This agenda clearly identifies information, integration, and participation as key building blocks to help countries achieve development that recognises these interacting factors.
It emphasises that in sustainable development everyone is a user and provider of information. It stresses the need to change from old sector-centred ways of doing business to new approaches that involve cross-sectoral co-ordination and the integration of environmental concerns into all development processes.
Furthermore, Agenda 21 emphasises that broad public participation in decision making is a fundamental prerequisite for achieving sustainable development.
As these multiple dimensions of development have been taken into account by governments, agencies and other organisations, so we see a different language emerging in development papers and reports. The World Bank defines participation as 'a process through which stakeholders influence and share control over development initiatives and the decisions and resources which affect them', and talks about the need to 'empower' the poor -- helping them move from being 'beneficiaries' to 'clients' World Bank Within Canada's International Development Research Centre IDRCVice-President Pierre Beemans suggests that development is 'change that improves the conditions of human well-being so that people can exercise meaningful choices for their own benefit and that of society'.
These definitions are significant in that they show how -- in theory at least -- there was a significant move by the mids to promoting a more embracing development paradigm that placed people at the centre and sought to ensure the sustainability of development actions.
At the same time placing the emphasis on people more easily enables the recognition of both rich and poor countries as 'developing countries', and does not limit the conditions of human well-being or choices to the conventional economic or social indices Beemans In New Zealand, for example, formal commitment to promoting the sustainable management of natural and physical resources as a guiding policy principle can be demonstrated not only through the government's adoption of Agenda 21, but also through the passing of the Resource Management Act RMA in which has as its purpose to promote the sustainable management of natural and physical resources Resource Management Act S.
This Act emerged out of a major review of existing environmental legislation, and consequently replaced over 50 statutes with a single piece of legislation. As defined in the RMA, sustainable management "means managing the use, developmentand protection of natural and physical resources in a way, or at a rate, which enables people and communities to provide for their social, economic, and cultural well-being and for their health and safety while -- a Sustaining the potential of natural and physical resources excluding minerals to meet the reasonably foreseeable needs of future generations; and b Safeguarding the life-supporting capacity of air, water, soil, and ecosystems; and c Avoiding, remedying, or mitigating any adverse effects of activities on the environment.
This integrated and people-centred approach to sustainable development can also be seen in the Environment Strategy. This Ministry for the Environment publication provides a coherent framework for setting priorities and developing environmental policy.
The strategy establishes a vision for New Zealand's environment to the yearand sets out an agenda to help achieve this which emphasises integration, effective laws and policy, information to underpin decision making and effective social participation in environmental decision making MfE Similarly within science, the Minister of Science, Research and Technology recently released the document, Blueprint for Change, which sets out how the Government intends to channel its research resources to facilitate the development of a knowledge society, characterised by knowledge-led innovation.
As is the trend internationally, a sense of empowering people is clearly identified within these outcomes whereby 'families and communities prosper within a culture of self-determination and social responsibility.
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