Axis 4

    Human Dimensions of Biodiversity

    This research axis emphasizes the linkages between social and ecological systems. Axis 4 researchers focuses on the development of our understanding of biocultural diversity, decision making processes, and the recognition of stakeholders as foundations to the effective and management of resources.

    In particular, axis 4 researchers explore the complex interactions between biodiversity and the agricultural, food security and human health sectors. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 80% of the global population relies on plant-based medicines for primary health care.

    Further, agricultural biodiversity provides not only food and income but also many other raw materials of critical importance. As a result, nearly one third of the world’s land area is used by agricultural production. As agriculture is one of the main land use, multi-scale research need to be conducted to better understand and implement our knowledge of social-ecological systems. This will provide additional contribution to international regulation, protocols and treaties development.

    Research conducted by Axis 4 researchers are aligned with two of the five goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity’s strategic plan which emphasises the need to (D) enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services; (E) enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and capacity building. These research are also aligned with the Future Earth program key focal challenges 5 to 8: v) promoting sustainable rural future to feed rising and more affluent population, vi) improve human health by elucidating, and finding responses to, the complex interactions amongst environmental change, pollution, pathogens, etc vii) encourage sustainable production patterns that are equitable by understanding the social and environmental impacts of consumption of all resources, etc., viii) increase social resilience to future threats by building adaptative governance systems, etc.

    Axis 4 researchers are collaborating with several institutions including the Montreal-based Secretariat for the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the OURANOS consortium, the Loyola Centre for Sustainability Research (LCSR) at Concordia University, the Institut de recherche en biologie végétale (IRBV), le Centre de la biodiversité de l’Université de Montréal, multiple provincial ministries (MAPAQ, MDDELCC) and other national or international organizations as well as programs like Future Earth.

    Research goals

    • To further our understanding of social-ecological systems
    • To further our understanding of decision-making mechanisms for the management of biodiversity in local and indigenous communities both locally and internationally, in the North and South.
    • To generate scientifically sound, socially relevant and politically feasible strategies for biodiversity management and appropriate governance from local to global scales.

    Research themes

    Axis 4 researchers will explore the topics related to the following themes:

    Theme 4.1. Biodiversity, Knowledge and Culture

    Theme 4.1 focuses on biocultural diversity and its expression in traditional and indigenous knowledge systems. Through engagements with stakeholders this will increase our knowledge on human-biodiversity related issues. These links between social and ecological systems are still important particularly in certain traditional and communities whi depend on natural resources for their existence (fisheries, forestry, hunting and trapping, etc). This theme is built upon the understanding of human behaviours and associated interactions with biodiversity. This had led to a strong emphasis on stakeholder engagement in biodiversity management.

    Theme 4.2. Biodiversity and Food Security

    Theme 4.2 focuses on traditional food security, sustainable livelihoods, agriculture and food production in modern agro-ecosystems as well as in traditional systems. Multi-scalar food security will be examined in the context of increasing international relations and trade.

    Theme 4.3. Biodiversity contribution to Health and well-being

    Theme 4.3 focuses on the link between biodiversity and health as a major contributor to individual and community well-being, which is also highly threatened according to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Well-being can, in many cases, be associated to access to healthy, nutritious foods and lifestyle choices. In certain contexts, health, psychological well-being spirituality intersect with biodiversity and the management of habitats and species. Key threats to health and well-being include the emergence of diseases and pathogens following local as well as global changes.

    Theme 4.4. Biodiversity resources, knowledge access and management in the context of an international regime on access and benefits sharing

    In light of the serious threats facing global biodiversity and of the growing commercial interest in genetic resources, researchers within this theme focus on key questions regarding genetic diversity and the access, management and benefits sharing associated with their genetic information. This theme is directly related to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing (ABS) which is linked to the third objective of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).