Linking local vulnerability to system sustainability in a resilience framework: two cases from Latin America
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Collectively, individual adjustments to environmental and economic change can have disproportionate influence on the sustainability of the broader social–environmental system in which exposure takes place. Here we focus on the specific mechanisms by which farm-level responses to globalization and environmental change feedback to affect the sustainability and resilience of the social–environment system. We use a proposal by Lambin as an analytical frame for understanding this feedback, illustrating how information, motivation and capacity collectively structure the ways in which the actions of individuals can transform regional economies and landscapes. We draw on two Latin American case studies to illustrate the collective and synergistic implications of farmers’ livelihood and land use choices for the sensitivity of the region to future market and environmental shocks, as well as for the role of the landscapes in the global carbon cycle. We argue that the potential disconnect between individual goals of livelihood security and broader aims of system sustainability can be bridged through improved governance and attention to the role of policy, individual and collective experience, and resource constraints in adaptive choice.
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