Ecosystems across the Global South are among the most biodiverse and productive in the world. But at the same time, many of these systems are the ones most severely threatened by a range of pressures from climate warming to deforestation — pressures primarily originating from human activity and demands from the global north. The degradation of these ecosystems has major effects on global cycles and ecosystem processes, but especially on local issues and livelihood.
Scientists who live and work in the Global South are at the frontlines of identifying and addressing the many challenges arising from global environmental change. But their voices have been largely excluded from the scientific community due to a history of colonialism. This includes a bias in the scientific literature, where submission and acceptance rates are much higher for science originating in Europe, North America and Oceania than the Global South. In addition to the inherent injustices this disparity presents, these issues also limit the quality of our science. Lack of insights from the Global South introduces bias into ecological meta-analyses/syntheses, especially because ecology is such a context-dependent science where patterns and processes greatly vary across regions and ecosystems. In terms of conservation efforts and policy, excluding voices from the Global South leads to worse outcomes, as the socio-political contexts are essential for understanding the viability of proposed solutions. Thus, it is essential that research is led by, or in collaboration with, local scientists that have a grounded understanding of many of these particularities.
Addressing these issues will take sustained cultural shifts, but it starts with centering voices that have been historically excluded in ecology. Our objective for this symposium is to present some of the obstacles ecologists and conservationists face in the Global South. The symposium brings together four scholars with unique perspectives on various ecosystems across the Global South, including agro-ecosystems, coral reefs, rangelands, and mixed-use forests. By integrating across geography, ecosystems, and environmental challenges, the symposium will offer a rich and textured understanding of ecology, conservation, and environmental justice issues. Integrating such perspectives into the way we do ecology will be vital for developing a better understanding and better solutions to environmental issues worldwide.
Presenting Author: Kevin Z. Mganga – Utrecht University
Presenting Author: Santiago Izquierdo Tort – Centro ITAM de Energía y Recursos Naturales (CIERN)
Co-author: Esteve Corbera – Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona Affiliation; Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats (ICREA)
Co-author: Adrian Martin – School of International Development, University of East Anglia
Co-author: Julia Carabias Lillo – Natura Y Ecosistemas Mexicanos A.C; Facultad de Ciencias, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)
Co-author: Jérôme Dupras – Université du Québec en Outaouais
Presenting Author: Sara Cannon – University of British Columbia, Vancouver
Co-author: Angela Liu – University of Oxford
Co-author: Simon Donner – University of British Columbia
Presenting Author: Meghna Krishnadas – Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology