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Biodiversity Online J

The Concept of Biodiversity Conservation Viewed through Philosophies of the Global South: Andean Buen Vivir, African Ubuntu and Buddhist Happiness

  • Dorine Van Norren1* and Henkjan Laats2

    11Associate Researcher, Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance and Society, Leiden University, Netherlands

    2Cross Cultural Bridges, Netherlands

    *Corresponding author: Dorine Van Norren, Associate Researcher, Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance and Society, Leiden University, Netherlands

Submission: March 05, 2022 Published: April 05, 2022


Mainstream conservation strives at sustainable management of natural resources by protecting areas from human intervention. This is problematic in the view of many indigenous communities who strive to live in harmony with Nature 1, whose lifestyles depend on Nature and who embrace concepts of wellbeing where man and Nature cannot be separated. In such a cosmovision Nature is not considered as a resource, but as a web of life in which living and non-living beings are interconnected and interdependent. This article refers to three concepts of conservation: mainstream conservation, post-wild world conservation, convivial conservation. The latter leaves room for inclusion of indigenous worldviews, of which we analyze three: African Ubuntu, Buddhist Happiness and Andean Buen Vivir. We offset these with examples of problematic conservation practices, often originating in mainstream conservation practices. The Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) Parties propose to expand these areas to 30% in 2030 to be decided in 2022. In ‘Western’ (globalized) culture conservation is a necessary supplement to the logic of economic growth and serves to offset the negative consequences. Sustainable growth thus promotes more of the same instead of advancing lifestyles in harmony with Nature. A principal aim of conservation is to maintain or increase biodiversity, with a focus on the conserved or protected areas. A crucial question is whether this dualist conservationist approach in which we divide conservation areas and human populated areas indeed enhances biodiversity, considering not only the conservation areas, but the planet as a whole.

Keywords: Conservation; Biodiversity; Buen vivir; Happiness; Ubuntu; Indigenous; Convivial conservation

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