Emergent patterns in nature and society


Exploitation of Natural Resources, Conflict and Internally Displaced People in Colombia

Video by Colombiaverket, a Swedish NGO whose aim is to support a negotiated settlement of the conflict that leads to peace and social justice in Colombia. It shows the reality of some of the communities I worked with back in 2007. Maria Alejandra Velez and me were looking at how collective titling was shaping collective action for natural resource management in the Chocó rain forest.

Black communities have settled there for centuries but only in 1991 their right to land was acknowledge by the constitution. With very little (if any) resources to enforce their institutions; today, they face all sorts of pressure from multinationals trying to do mining to guerrillas trying to keep clean routes for drug smuggling. They live in a country where there is not help from the state if the crop fails, where there is not free education, unemployment subsidies, proper health care or social benefits. They live in the real world as I often call it, I’m writing from “the matrix”.

Thinking on natural resource management in such context is a little bit more complicated that what the textbook tells you about ecosystem management. Conflict, war, corruption, violence, poverty, displacement, power or massacre are not words used to write papers that enhance your good looking CV. They are reality for many who find it hard to talk about it. They are not just concepts in books, they are drivers of abrupt transitions in both ecosystems and societies. They are not external forces that can be ignored by changing the tv channel or asking for visas. They also spread in your social network. They are internal dynamics that still need to be understood. Science still needs to respond the challenge by going further than the journalistic exercise of reporting case studies. The challenge is on, it has always been there. Just go for it.

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