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Event: May, 2013 – From the Mata Atlantica to the Menen Steppes: a conversation on sustainable livelihoods in Brazil and Mongolia

wpe panel 2

By Kate Wilkins

How can we maintain sustainable living in the face of global change?  What does sustainable living mean to different cultures?  How can scientists contribute?  These topics and more were discussed during “From the Mata Atlantica to the Menen Steppes: a conversation on sustainable livelihoods in Brazil and Mongolia”, hosted by CSU’s Women, Population and the Environment, School of Global Environmental Sustainability and Natural Resources Ecology Laboratory.  Check out below for a brief summary and the video for the full discussion.

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Thais Corral, Social Entrepreneur and Founder of REDEH in Brazil

Dr. Dennis Ojima, Senior Research Scientist in NREL/DESS

Tungaa Ulambayar, PhD candidate in Forest & Rangeland Stewardship

Thais Corral, a business entrepreneur and environmental advocate from Brazil, has been heavily involved with addressing gender issues in sustainable development, and works to build community resilience and adaptation to climate change in Brazil’s Mata Atalântica biome. Dr. Dennis Ojima, a Senior Research Scientist at the Natural Resource Ecology Lab, and Tugaa Ulambayar, a PhD candidate in Forest and Rangeland Stewardship at CSU, discussed their research on how Mongolian pastoralists are adapting to climate change, including preserving community livelihoods and cultural traditions.


The panelists addressed how people in developing countries (specifically Brazil and Mongolia) can maintain sustainable livelihoods in the face of climate change. Though each speaker had uniquely different projects, they all blended ecological monitoring with qualitative research that involved interviewing community members in both Brazil and Mongolia about local knowledge of the changing environment.

The panelists discussed the following ideas on building community resilience and adaptation to climate change:

1. Researchers need to blend ecological and social science to develop a holistic view of the interconnected social, cultural and environmental changes.

2. Different stakeholders must come together to to truly maintain sustainable livelihoods.  The stakeholders include government agencies, residents, industry, the non-profit sector, as well as researchers.  Researchers should thus stop using only a western-science to assess systems.

3. “Think Globally, Act Locally”.  We should focus on local communities to solve global issues in sustainable development.  Solving issues closer to home solves problems on a global scale if ideas are exchanged between cultures to learn from each other’s sustainable practices and applied them locally.

Kate Wilkins is a PhD student in CSU’s Graduate Degree Program in Ecology and NREL, studying ecological and social measures for assessing resilience and adaptation to climate change.  She’s also a member of Women, Population and the Environment.  In her research, Kate blends ecological monitoring with qualitative research, having once interviewed a sandhill crane by accident.