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Sustainable desert livelihoods : a cross-cultural framework



Sustainable desert livelihoods : a cross-cultural framework


LaFlamme, Michael


E-Publications; PublicationNT; E-Books; Desert Knowledge CRC Working Paper 69




Alice Springs


Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).


Includes bibliographical references. p.28-33.

Table of contents

Acknowledgements -- Executive summary -- Introduction: Sustaining biocultural diversity -- Sustaining biocultural diversity through livelihoods -- The Sustainable Livelihoods Framework -- A livelihood as a system -- Adapting the SLF to the desert -- Frameworks for sustaining desert diversity -- Desert factors -- System characteristics of desert livelihoods -- Characteristics of Aboriginal sustainability -- A Desert Livelihood Framework -- Desert assets/strategies/outcomes -- Desert rules and risk -- Rules -- Risks -- Interactions across levels and cultures -- Example: Biodiversity -- Desert influence -- Conclusion: A cross-cultural framework for desert sustainability -- References.




Sustainable development -- Alice Springs

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Desert Knowledge CRC

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Alice Springs (N.T.)


Desert Knowledge CRC Working Paper 69


iv, 33 pages : colour illustrations ; 30 cm.

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Desert Knowledge CRC Working Paper 69: Michael LaFlamme the best way to avoid the one-size-fits-all recipe for failure is to let Indigenous peoples decide for themselves who the appropriate self in self-governance is and how self-governing institutions should be structured and to accept the variety of relationships and governance solutions that will surely result. Supporting diverse Aboriginal identities in collaborative policy design and implementation is difficult but necessary for a culturally plural nation. However, Dillon and Westbury (2007) find that Australian governments have not yet developed their capacities in this area. They present evidence that the resulting policy paralysis causes destruction of indigenous lives, and of the nations social cohesion, sense of national unity and reputation (Dillon & Westbury 2008, p. 207). The Indigenous Community Governance Project (Hunt et al. 2008), an extensive set of comparative case studies, also concluded that the relationship between government and Indigenous Australia has become dysfunctional for both groups (Hunt et al. 2008, p. 22): It is likely, therefore, that the legitimacy and effectiveness of both Indigenous governance and the governance of governments in Australia will continue to be inextricably linked, not only to the priorities, normative codes and institutional predilections of each, but to the extent of their mutual understanding and engagement. Changing entrenched systems such as these requires a transformation of this system into new configurations (Walker et al. 2004). For example, in desert Australia the close and mutually exclusive relationship among Aboriginal and government groups necessitates a difficult transformation toward equitable intercultural governance of resources and decision-making power (e.g. Desert Knowledge Australia 2008). Sustaining biocultural diversity through livelihoods In 1983, the United Nations recognised the impact of more powerful groups on less powerful people and places by convening the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). Its intent was to address concern about the accelerating deterioration of the human environment and natural resources and the consequences of that deterioration for economic and social development by establishing international policies for sustainable development to the year 2000 and beyond (UNGA 1987a, 1987b). The WCED (1987 report, Our Common Future, introduced the triple-bottom-line concept of the ecological, social and economic dimensions of sustainability. A fourth, institutional dimension reflected policy and capacity. This holistic view was a significant step for nations to formally recognise the unequal impacts of economic growth and to identify wide-ranging measures for reducing those impacts. At that time, other analyses focused narrowly on market-based systems of resource production and consumption, job-based employment and income-based measures of deprivation and wellbeing. The WCED Advisory Panel on Food Security (WCED 1987 studied land-based livelihoods with an innovative method that used the testimony of the poor to expand the definition of poverty. Poor people described what poverty meant to them using measures that included income, vulnerability, lack of influence and degraded assets. A livelihood came to be defined broadly as people, their land, their capabilities and their means of making a living (Chambers & Conway 1991). The idea of capability was based on Sen (1979, 1981; Dreze & Sen 1989). It recognised the right of less-powerful people to fulfil aspirations that differ culturally from those of dominant groups. Sen argued against equality based on goods (utilitarian equity). He argued for interpreting needs in the form of basic capabilities, a broad concept allowing culturally diverse meanings that include the ability to meet requirements of nutrition, clothing, shelter and quality of life. He also introduced the idea of capability equity, that more equal access to resources is necessary to develop livelihoods (Sen 1979). Sustainable Desert Livelihoods: A cross-cultural framework Desert Knowledge CRC 5

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