Abstract: Reconciling natural and cultural heritage with economic development is a prime challenge for contemporary and future societies. Striving for such reconciliation is essentially the same as striving for sustainability — the process that dominates the implementation of the philosophy of sustainable development. There is a fundamental interrelation between natural capital, human-made capital and cultural capital. Human-made capital is a result of the interaction between natural and cultural capital, and thus (Berkes and Folke 1994) is never value neutral. One of the challenges faced by resource managers in situation where Indigenous values of cultural capital are strong is how to adequately take into account their worldview of resources, resource ownership and value systems, which are essentially different from those of the modern resource managers. The challenges are particularly evident when trying to develop natural resource management systems that not only adequately reflect, but also build on, Indigenous cultural values, including those about communal property rights. In this paper, we first explore the characteristics of Indigenous cultural capital, which expresses a holistic view of the environment encompassing utilitarian and non-utilitarian goods and services and the ecosystem. The paper then provides an economic and social interpretation of the composition and ‘ownership’ of cultural capital, and then discusses the implications of this in the use and management of natural resources. Examples are drawn from Australia and the Pacific to illustrate key points. Lastly, the paper suggests an approach that recognises Indigenous cultural value systems, and incorporates these in the design of management systems to meet the sustainable economic development challenges of today and the future.
Notes: scroll to pg. 195 International Society for Ecological Economics and Australian National University