NCEAS Product 25569

Sterling, Eleanor J.; Filardi, Chris; McCarter, Joe; Jupiter, Stacy D.; Cullman, Georgina; Albert, Simon; Betley, Erin; Boseto, David; Basi, Marlene; Bulehite, Evan S.; Harron, Ryan; Holland, Piokera S.; Horning, Ned; Hughes, Alec; Jino, Nixon; Malone, Cynthia; Mauli, Senoveva; Pae, Bernadette; Papae, Remmy; Rence, Ferish; Revo, Oke; Taqala, Ezekiel; Taqu, Miri; Woltz, Hara. 2018. Biocultural approaches to indicator development in the Solomon Islands. Ecology and Society. (Abstract) (Online version)


Despite recent advances in the development of sustainability indicators, it is still difficult to produce indicator sets that are locally derived and culturally appropriate. In particular, indicator frameworks that capture both ecological and socio-cultural sustainability remain elusive, as do mechanisms to monitor feedbacks between system components. In Melanesia, which encompasses a complex mosaic of land- and seascapes and different worldviews, finding locally-appropriate sustainability indicators poses particular challenges. We propose that ‘biocultural approaches’ can assist in developing grounded and appropriate measures of resilience and sustainability. These approaches begin by framing issues from the perspectives of communities and work with local landholders to develop desired outcomes. In doing so, biocultural approaches recognize links between people and the environment and seek to capture social and ecological feedbacks. Biocultural approaches may help to improve the fit between local aspirations and national or international actions, and can facilitate co-creation of knowledge that draws on western science as well as local knowledge and practice. In this talk, we report on one such approach in Western Province, Solomon Islands, where communities are weighing a variety of tradeoffs around the use of natural resources. The work is based at four sites, and seeks to define local needs and priorities, develop appropriate local indicators of success, assess indicator baselines, and catalyze appropriate action. Implementation challenges have included conceptual difficulties around the role of indicators and linkages to community programming, as well as the diversity of the four sites. These have, however, been offset by the engaged nature of indicator creation, which makes space for conversation at all levels about endogenous definitions of resilience and sustainability. In closing, we suggest that biocultural approaches are important, but that there is further development needed to allow for the application and translation of information at different scales and geographies.