Social Ecological Systems

(E) I had the opportunity to attend in 2010 a talk organized by the Center of Ethics at Stanford University from Elinor Ostrom about “Understanding Social-Ecological Systems”. Professor Ostrom was the first woman to be awarded a Nobel Prize in Economics for her work about “Governing the Commons”. She pioneered the research about how social, economic and political forces and structures shape and transform our ecological systems. Following is one of her papers that I found useful to summarize her work: “A diagnostic approach for going beyond panaceas: 15181.full.pdf”.

Today, Ms. Ostrom left us at the age of 78 while losing a battle with cancer. Ironically, her last article “Green from the Grassroots”, about the coming United Nations Rio+ 20 summit, was published the same day in Project Syndicate. Following is the conclusion of her article (not a good one to say the least):

“We have a decade to act before the economic cost of current viable solutions becomes too high. Without action, we risk catastrophic and perhaps irreversible changes to our life-support system.

Our primary goal must be to take planetary responsibility for this risk, rather than placing in jeopardy the welfare of future generations”.

Note: the picture above is Ms. Ostrom.

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Categories: Environment