Monday, August 3, 2009: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
Taos, Albuquerque Convention Center
Gary P. Kofinas
Human impacts on local and global sustainability and resilience are forcing us to critically re-examine our relationships with nature. By pooling the collective insights of diverse scholars in collaborative research, community engagement, and ecological education, this symposium bridges major gaps in sustainability issues today, such as between ecological theory and practice, science and policy, individual wants and collective needs. We focus not only on ecological science, but also on the socio-cultural processes that can impede information transfer between and among researchers, educators, policy-makers, and the public. Local indigenous, urban, and faith-based ecological knowledge holders and practitioners will dialogue with internationally recognized scientists on global sustainability challenges in science and policy decision-making. They will identify strategies of how to incorporate diverse ecological knowledge into sustainable planning initiatives and assessments of local and global impacts, particularly the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. The chasm between what we know is needed and what we do in practice, vis-à-vis our relationships with nature and her resources, largely reflects incongruent values and incentives between individuals and society. This may be rooted in a lack of ecological understanding of the impacts of our actions on those affected. Greater awareness of the collective impacts of individual consumption was stimulated by environmental policies, by mobilizing local community members to form alliances to reduce their ecological footprints, while socio-economically underprivileged communities, the least represented in science and policy, are often the most ecologically vulnerable. By authentically engaging with all communities of stakeholders, applying diverse sources of ecological knowledge, and informing citizens to act responsibly, ecologists can contribute to building not only a sustainable, but just global society. The symposium audience will witness protocols of respectful listening and sharing within an indigenous talking circle, presentations of the best ecological science currently informing environmental policy, and an open dialogue tackling key sustainability challenges, locally and globally. Symposium participants will address sustainability issues threatening basic human needs and values, such as related to land, water, air, food, and energy. They will offer specific strategies of how to secure human well-being, notably, by improving science and technology, partnering with local indigenous, urban, and faith-based communities, and engaging the public in policy decision-making and implementation plans. Perhaps most significantly, they will actively demonstrate reciprocal sharing of ecological knowledge to open communication and create the synergy needed to alleviate social injustices, one relational pathway to global sustainability and resilience.
ESA Education and Diversity Programs Office, ESA Traditional Ecological Knowledge Section, ESA Environmental Justice Section