Coviability as a Scientific Paradigm for an Ecological Transition, from an Overview to a Definition

  • Olivier BarrièreEmail author
  • Thérèse Libourel
  • Maud Loireau
  • Voyner Ravena-Cañete
  • Catherine Prost
  • Gilbert David
  • Serge Morand
  • Laurence Pascal
  • Vincent Douzal


Coviability of Social and Ecological Systems: Reconnecting Mankind to the Biosphere in an Era of Global Change comprises two volumes and forty-three chapters totaling about 900 pages. The book is prefaced by an economist and concluded by an ecologist; its postscript is written by a socio-anthropologist. A hundred researchers, belonging to more than twenty disciplines, contributed to its development; and this under the direction, in full interdisciplinarity, of twelve co-editors. Before closing the book, it is necessary to clarify the main point, rather than offer an inaccessible summary. At this stage, it is important to identify the significance of this scientific paradigm of coviability, especially in an international context confronted with an ecological imperative. The book seeks to draw from the set of works an initial definition of the paradigm of coviability. This goal’s point of departure is the plural definitions and disciplines, the heterogeneous works giving space for reflection.

This new paradigm of socio-ecological coviability offers an ecological transition promoted at the global, national and local scales. An integrative paradigm is suggested to counter the dominant naturalistic paradigm. The goal of this paradigm is “living in harmony with nature,” that is, creating harmony between humans and nonhumans. The challenge consists of breaking free from a reductive anthropocentrism in order to integrate an ontology open to a socio-ecological dimension, with the goal of reconnecting humanity to the biosphere. The diversity of the situations approached by the different research teams makes it possible to test a definition of socio-ecological coviability that may be: a property of interactive dependence between humans and nonhumans joined in a relationship that is contained by regulations and constraints. This relationship establishes a link of viability subjected to an integration threshold of the complex human/nonhuman system determining the limits of coviability’s elasticity, whose realization remains the coevolution in an integrated socio-ecological system.

The legal and political formalization of the coviability paradigm is designed to contribute to the ecological transition by establishing a new general Principle that could reposition the goal of sustainable development in terms of viability.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Olivier Barrière
    • 1
    Email author
  • Thérèse Libourel
    • 2
  • Maud Loireau
    • 1
  • Voyner Ravena-Cañete
    • 3
  • Catherine Prost
    • 4
  • Gilbert David
    • 5
  • Serge Morand
    • 6
  • Laurence Pascal
    • 7
  • Vincent Douzal
    • 8
  1. 1.IRD - French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development, UMR ESPACE-DEVMontpellierFrance
  2. 2.Université Montpellier, UMR ESPACE-DEVMontpellierFrance
  3. 3.The Federal University of ParáBelémBrazil
  4. 4.The Federal University of BahiaSalvadorBrazil
  5. 5.Space for DevelopmentUMR Espace-Development, IRD – French National Research Institute for Sustainable DevelopmentMontpellierFrance
  6. 6.CNRS-ISEM, University of MontpellierMontpellierFrance
  7. 7.University of MontpellierMontpellierFrance
  8. 8.IRSTEA, National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and AgricultureMontpellierFrance

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