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Monday, July 25 • 4:30pm - 5:00pm
Indigenous Contributions to Sustainability and Systems Education

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2775 The denigration of the world’s ecosystems has been driven by the economic imperatives of insatiable multi-national corporations whose goals are to concentrate the ownership and control of global resources in a progressively narrowing band of society. The impacts of this denigration are understood as crises called, ozone depletion, global warming, sea-level rise, extreme weather events, water scarcity, and the shrinking polar ice regions. These challenges involve significant degrees of complexity in our rapidly changing world. Engaging societies and communities in the meaningful changes of behaviour necessary to halt and reverse the denigration of our life-supporting ecosystems is extremely difficult, given that the majority of these societies are a significant part of the problem. They rely almost universally on the same epistemological basis of understanding the world as the multi-national corporations that are destroying it. In many ways, these societies support the behaviours of the multi-national corporations through their consumerism and political systems of representation. Decision making frameworks based on systems thinking can facilitate enhanced understandings of sustainability and potentially enlighten societies to behave differently. However to do so they must communicate an understanding of complexity that engages society at the level of values and beliefs, as these determine actions. They must also be transparent, inclusive, contextually relevant, and based on epistemological concepts that are much more strongly aligned with sustainability. The epistemologies of Indigenous Peoples are based on principles of interconnectedness, holism, relevance over long periods of time, inter-generational equity, and uniqueness to place. Indigenous Peoples have out of necessity had to develop ways of retaining their values and beliefs while accommodating the enforced changes associated with the destructive colonisation processes experienced in many parts of the world. The Waitangi Tribunal was born of the first recognition of New Zealand’s 1840 founding document in the Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975. This tribunal was established to avoid further transgressions of the Treaty. Many early claims were about environmental degradation while others related to the retention of cultural values, knowledge and language. Claims all identified impacts upon mauri, life supporting capacity. Indigenous concepts raised in hearings included; retention of intrinsic values / mauri; spiritual and cultural values; obligations to enhance mauri; and implications for future generations. Often successful, these claims resulted in significant rethinking of projects and ultimately informed changes in law. The Resource Management Act (1991) has the purpose of promoting sustainable development taking into account environmental, social, cultural and economic well-being of society. However while the ground-breaking new law incorporated numerous indigenous concepts, it stopped short of actually including mauri. The Mauri Model Decision Making Framework allows Indigenous Peoples to contribute understanding based on their own knowledge so that they can be effectively included in resource management decision making processes. The Framework adds a strengthened decision making context due to its ability to incorporate culturally relevant knowledge seamlessly alongside scientific understandings of a situation, incorporating both quantitative and qualitative data consistently into the same assessment. When mauri is defined as the life supporting capacity of the air, water and soil the theoretical basis is created for relevance in terms of New Zealand law, and a means to measure and evaluate impacts in a holistic way then exists. Thus through integrating systems techniques and the indigenous concept, Mauri, the Mauri Model Decision Making Framework creates a new approach to cross-cultural communication and action. Independent research has assessed the Mauri Model as an exemplar against Bellagio STAMP and it is now included in curricula in engineering, planning and international studies at the University of Auckland, as well as being an online resource.

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avatar for Ockie Bosch

Ockie Bosch

President Elect, International Society for the Systems Sciences
Professor Ockie Bosch was born in Pretoria, South Africa. He first came to Australia in 1979 where he was an invited senior visiting scientist with the CSIRO in Alice Springs. After one year in Longreach (1989) he emigrated to New Zealand where he was offered a position with Landcare Research. In 2000 he was offered a position as Professor in Natural Systems Management at the University of Queensland in Australia. In 2012 he moved to the... Read More →

Monday July 25, 2016 4:30pm - 5:00pm
ECCR 245

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