Accepted Paper:

Transforming sustainability into action: Challenges of an interdisciplinary project with multi-ethnic actors in the South Caucasus / Georgia  


Anja Katharina Salzer (Free University of Bolzano)
Marinus Gebhardt

Paper short abstract:

As the access to natural resources and strategies of securing livelihood have received diversification within the post-Soviet transformation-processes, new challenges for local ecosystems have been arising. A common perception of sustainability among ALL stakeholders is seen as a key in facing this.

Paper long abstract:

Following a holistic approach the interdisciplinary project "Biodiversity and sustainable management of mountain grassland in the Javakheti Highland, South Caucasus, Georgia" is focusing on the interrelation of local land-use practice with the sensitive biodiversity of alpine steppe-ecosystems of the region, aiming on to be both: strongly application related and scientifically sound, principle-orientated.

The project and its region are highly diverse: ecologically in terms of species richness and endemism, socio-economically with Georgian, Armenian and Azeri population, but also internally in terms of the researchers constellation coming from different academic and ethnic backgrounds. As the access to natural resources and the strategies of securing livelihood have received diversification within the transformation-processes of the former Soviet republics, new challenges for the local ecosystems have been arising.

Transforming these challenges into sustainable action, a common perception of "sustainability" among all stakeholders (local land-users, national and international NGO┬┤s, politicians and scientists) is seen as central concern and as key for the success of the project as well as processes of socio-ecological alteration in general.

What is the role of Anthropology in developing a common sense on "sustainability"? And what is the responsibility of applied Anthropology within an interdisciplinary project which is aimed to lead to participatory processes of transforming knowledge into action?

It is urgently needed to discuss applicable concepts of sustainability within the conflicting priorities of cultural and natural scientific approaches. Suitable theories and methods involving all stakeholders (internal and external) will be depicted by an project internal Anthropologist and an Ecologist.

Panel G16
Towards an anthropology of sustainability?