Evaluating taboo trade-offs in ecosystems services and human well-being

Author(s): Daw. T., Coulthard, S., Cheung, W.W.L., Brown, K., Abunge, C., Galafassi, D., Peterson, G.D., McClanahan, T.R., Omukoto, J.O., Munyi, L.
In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1414900112
Year: 2015
Type: Journal / article
Theme affiliation: Marine, Stewardship
Link to centre authors: Daw, Tim, Galafassi, Diego, Peterson, Garry
Full reference: Daw. T., Coulthard, S., Cheung, W.W.L., Brown, K., Abunge, C., Galafassi, D., Peterson, G.D., McClanahan, T.R., Omukoto, J.O., Munyi, L. 2015. Evaluating taboo trade-offs in ecosystems services and human well-being. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1414900112

Summary

Managing ecosystems for multiple ecosystem services and balancing the well-being of diverse stakeholders involves different kinds of trade-offs. Often trade-offs involve noneconomic and difficult-to-valuate values, such as cultural identity, employment, the well-being of poor people, or particular species or ecosystem structures.

Although trade-offs need to be considered for successful environmental management, they are often overlooked in favor of win-wins. Management and policy decisions demand approaches tha can explicitly acknowledge and evaluate diverse trade-offs. We identified a diversity of apparent trade-offs in a small-scale tropical fishery when ecological simulations were integrated with participatory assessments of social–ecological system structure and stakeholders’well-being. Despite an apparent win-win between conservation and profitability at the aggregate scale, food production, employment, and well-being of marginalized stakeholders were differentially influenced by management decisions leading to trade-offs. Some of these trade-offs were suggested to be "tabo trade-offs" between morally incommensurable values, such as between profits and the well-being of marginalized women.

The concept of taboo trade-offs suggests that psychological bias and social sensitivity may exclude key issues from decision making, which can result in policies that are difficult to implement. Our participatory modeling and scenarios approach has the potential to increase awareness of such trade-offs, promote discussion of what is acceptable, and potentially identify and reduce obstacles to management compliance.

Stockholm Resilience Centre is a collaboration between Stockholm University and the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

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