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142529-What's social about natural resources and why do we need to theorise it.doc (73.5 kB)

What's social about natural resources and why do we need to theorise it?

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posted on 2023-05-22, 18:42 authored by Lockie, S, Vaughan HigginsVaughan Higgins, Lawrence, G
For decades, social scientists have struggled for recognition as valid contributors to natural resource management (NRM). Overshadowed by the seemingly obvious importance of soils, hydrology, agronomy, biology, ecology and a host of other apparently ‘natural’ dimensions of NRM, the social dimensions of NRM have all too often been ignored. So how much have things changed? Since the report of the World Commission on Environment and Development in 1987 (WCED, 1987) there has been growing international recognition of the relationships between what we understand as natural and social resources, or between environments and people. The WCED argued that sustainable use of natural resources was impossible without ensuring social and economic development, equity and justice. Environmental issues were thus also social, trade and economic issues. While it would be misleading to trace widespread change to a single report or event, it is evident nevertheless that as we begin the new century NRM policy statements from governments, non-government organisations and multilateral organisations alike embrace components of a new 'language' of partnerships, capacity building, institutional support, public participation, community initiatives, environmental health, community health, social capital, international cooperation, education, and a host of concepts and ideas once foreign to the natural sciences.


Publication title

Environment, Society and Natural Resources Management: Theoretical Perspectives from Australasia and the Americas


G Lawrence, S Lockie, and V Higgins




978 1 84064 449 4


School of Social Sciences


Edward Elgar

Place of publication

Cheltenham, UK



Rights statement

Copyright 2001 Edward Elgar

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in human society

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