As we face the greatest challenge of our time, adapting to climate change-induced issues while ensuring future food and water security, it's essential to strike a balance between economic growth and environmental protection. Meeting the growing demand for food will only be possible if ecosystems are protected, and agriculture provides solutions for sustainability rather than contributing to environmental degradation. This is where enhancing sustainability across human-natural systems can make a significant difference in improving decisions and investments towards more sustainable natural resource management and utilization.
At CESAR, our mission is to promote sustainability and longevity in human-natural systems coexistence. We believe that by providing accessible evidence and experience to decision-makers and investors, we can enable the transformation of landscapes into productive and sustainable ecosystems. By minimizing negative trade-offs that degrade landscapes, we can develop cost-effective natural and resource monitoring interventions to promote nature-based solutions.
One critical aspect of enhancing sustainability across human-natural systems is early detection and exploring restoration potential of landscapes. Millions of people depend on ecosystem goods and services for their livelihoods and survival. Unfortunately, anthropogenic pressure and climate change have degraded many ecosystems. Restoring and protecting these landscapes requires involving various stakeholders in co-designing socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable solutions. Additionally, identifying degraded areas in a landscape aims to enhance ecosystem services and related benefits, including increasing food and energy production, maintaining sources of clean potable water, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and improving livelihoods.
Upstream and downstream linkages in ecosystems also play a crucial role in maintaining ecosystem services and can help in climate change adaptation and mitigation. Understanding these linkages is essential to ensure the long-term sustainability of ecosystem services and to address the challenges of climate change. Ecosystem services such as clean water, nutrient cycling, and soil formation are provided by upstream ecosystems, which are crucial for the functioning of downstream ecosystems and for human societies. Degradation of upstream ecosystems can lead to the loss of these services downstream, affecting human health and livelihoods. Therefore, it is important to understand the linkages between upstream and downstream ecosystems to ensure that these services are maintained and sustained.
Furthermore, a better understanding of the linkages between upstream and downstream ecosystems can help in developing climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies. For example, protecting and restoring upstream ecosystems can help to maintain or enhance the resilience of downstream ecosystems and communities to climate change impacts.
Linking science to solutions is another critical aspect of enhancing sustainability across human-natural systems. It seeks to bridge the gap between scientific research and practical solutions to address critical water, land, and ecosystem challenges facing the world today. The process involves synthesizing and disseminating research findings, innovations, and best practices to inform and guide policy and decision-making processes at local, regional, and global levels. By collaborating between scientists, policymakers, practitioners, and citizen scientists, we can identify key challenges and opportunities, develop solutions, and implement them in an effective, sustainable, and equitable way.
In conclusion, enhancing sustainability across human-natural systems is critical for addressing the challenges posed by climate change while ensuring that the planet's natural resources are conserved for future generations. It requires a holistic and integrated approach to ecosystem management that balances economic growth and environmental protection. By early detection and exploring restoration potential of landscapes, understanding upstream and downstream linkages in ecosystems, and linking science to solutions, we can build a more sustainable and resilient future for ourselves and future generations.
- Amare, M., & Mengistu, D. (2019). The share of water used for agriculture globally and its implications for future food and water security: challenges and opportunities. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 26(28), 28983-28994.
- Baggio, J. A., Barnett, A. J., Perez-Ibarra, I., Rubiños, C. A., & Rollins, N. D. (2016). Methods for detecting early warnings of critical transitions in time series illustrated using simulated ecological data. PloS one, 11(10), e0158972.
- Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. (2005). Ecosystems and human well-being: synthesis. Island Press.
- United Nations Development Programme. (2015). Sustainable Development Goals. Retrieved from https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/sustainable-development-goals.html.