Human Dimension of Biodiversity Change detailed programme

The major justification for the program on Human Dimensions of Biodiversity Change is that humans are major drivers of changes in biological diversity, and   changes in biological diversity in turn affect human well-being. The reciprocal effects of humans on changes in biodiversity and of changes in biodiversity on humans are not well understood. The main goal of the program is to develop a science plan to examine the reciprocal relationship between biodiversity change and human well-being. Specifically the program will focus on three sets of questions: 1. Which human actions have the most effect on biodiversity? What are the ultimate drivers of these activities? 2. What are the consequences of changes in biological diversity for humans? How are they distributed across regions, classes and gender? and 3. What should be society’s responses to biodiversity changes and to the consequences of these changes on human well-being? When and why are current responses inadequate or ineffective?

PROGRAM FOR 2010-2011

The results from four activities in 2009 will shape the program in 2010-2011.  Although the activities in 2009 focused on all three questions, in 2010, the program will largely focus on society’s responses to biodiversity changes and to the consequences of these changes on human well-being in 2011. This focus largely results from discussions and workshops, including the workshop held in Cape Town in 2009 during the IUBS General Assembly. Specifically, the program through a series of activities will foster discussion on research questions and interdisciplinary approaches to examine:
• Synergistic effects of climate change and biodiversity change on human populations
• Vulnerability of human populations to biodiversity change (and climate change)
• Role of traditional knowledge in mitigation of biodiversity loss and conservation of biodiversity
• Curtailment of deleterious changes in biodiversity, particularly the role of current approaches to conserve biodiversity

In addition, the planned activities will focus on approaches required to synthesize new knowledge about interactions between nature and society, link knowledge with policy, and train researchers in sustainability science. As mentioned earlier, the questions will be examined in the context of montane and coastal ecosystems and the most vulnerable populations living in these areas.

The issues and topics described above are tentative and subject to review and revision during the workshops and meetings to be organised during 2010-2011.

The program will also create web pages for the IUBS web site, but it will not YET create a separate web site due to budgetary constraints. The program committee will update web pages.


The program currently is being steered by an informal committee consisting of Kamal Bawa, Sharad Lele, Peter Wilhausen, and Reinmar Seidler. As soon as we get the new funds, we will constitute a formal committee that will include a member of the IUBS Executive Committee. This steering committee will govern the program.

The program will begin with a workshop in Boston in late spring or early fall of 2010. This planning workshop to be attended by about half a dozen members of the sub-committee, and 3-4 other scientists working on the questions and issues addressed above. The workshop participants will develop a draft science plan for the program, and plan for a larger conference in India in March or April 2011 to discuss the science plan.

In fall 2010, the steering committee will also develop a proposal for funding of the larger 2011 conference. The committee will submit proposals to agencies such as the International Council of Scientific Unions( ICSU), International Research and Development Council( IDRC) and private foundations for support of the conference. The 2011 conference will be organized around the original three sets of questions. The major output of the conference will be the revision of the draft science plan dealing with drivers and consequences of and responses to biodiversity change.

The results of the 2010 and 2011 meetings will be presented to the next IUBS General Assembly.   The future of the program will also be discussed at the Assembly.

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