Promoting Health and Well-Being by Managing for Social–Ecological Resilience: the Potential of Integrating Ecohealth and Water Resources Management Approaches
Bunch, Martin J
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In coupled social–ecological systems, the same driving forces can result in combined social and environmental health inequities, hazards, and impacts. Policies that decrease social inequities and improve social cohesion, however, also have the potential to improve health outcomes and to minimize and offset the drivers of ecosystem change. Actions that address both biophysical and social environments have the potential to create a "double dividend" that improves human health, while also promoting sustainable development. One promising approach to managing the complex, reciprocal interactions among ecosystems, society, and health is the integration of the ecohealth approach (which holds that human health and well-being are both dependent on ecosystems and are important outcomes of ecosystem management) with watershed-based water resources management. Using key management concepts such as resilience, such approaches can help reduce vulnerability to natural hazards, maintain ecological flows of water and the provision of other ecological services, and promote long-term sustainability of coupled human and natural systems. Priorities for understanding and realizing health benefits of watershed management include (i) addressing poverty and reducing inequities, (ii) promoting resilience (for health) in watersheds, and (iii) applying watersheds as a context for intersectoral management tools and policy integration. Examples of work linking health and watershed management demonstrate that not only is appreciation of complex systems important, but an effective approach is participatory and transdisciplinary and gives attention to equity and historical context.
CitationEcology and Society 16(1): 6.
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