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Opportunities and obstacles to socioecosystem-based environmental policy in Mexico: expert opinion at the science-policy interface

Antony Challenger, Instituto de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas y Sustentabilidad, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Campus Morelia, Mexico
Ana Cordova, El Colegio de la Frontera Norte, Departamento de Estudios Urbanos y del Medio Ambiente, Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico
Elena Lazos Chavero, Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Cd. Mx., Mexico
Miguel Equihua, Instituto de Ecología, A.C. (INECOL), Xalapa, México; SocioEcos/CONACyT Network
Manuel Maass, Instituto de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas y Sustentabilidad, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Campus Morelia, Mexico


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The urgent need to revert the ecological and social equity crises of the current development model and realize the potential of sustainable development has led several disciplines to converge on the socioecosystem concept as the most appropriate theoretical framework for research and public policy. The socioecosystem approach recognizes that social systems are integrated with natural systems and seeks to adaptively comanage socioecosystem coevolution for the sustainable development of both systems. We hypothesize that incorporation of this approach into environmental policy in Mexico could help resolve many of the problems that currently undermine policy effectiveness. To find out to what extent policy professionals might concur with this hypothesis, and what the opportunities and obstacles to implementing socioecosystem-based policy might be, research was conducted to elicit the expert opinion of officials responsible for formulating and implementing environmental policy in Mexico. The principle opportunities consist in the fact that experts intuitively understand the socioecosystem approach, and that most perceive advantages in adopting it because its policy attributes can potentially help to resolve many of the factors they identify as limiting the success of current environmental policies. Obstacles to its adoption include institutional barriers and the vested interests that benefit from the status quo.

Key words

complex adaptive systems; environmental governance; expert opinion; mainstreaming; Mexico; public policy; social-ecological systems; socioecosystem; sustainable development; transdisciplinarity

Copyright © 2018 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087