Resilience perspectives – Resilience can be defined as the capacity of a social-ecological system to withstand perturbations from e.g. climate or economic shocks and to rebuild and renew itself afterwards, without shifting into a qualitatively different state. Resilience has increasingly been acknowledged as an important factor in determining ecosystems’ capacity to continue generating ecosystem services in a world increasingly influenced by global environmental change. There is a strong correlation between biodiversity and an ecosystem’s resilience, and its ability to deliver ecosystem services.

Social-ecological systems rich in Biodiversity – Social-ecological systems are linked systems of people and nature. The term emphasizes that humans must be seen as a part of, not apart from, nature — that the delineation between social and ecological systems is artificial and arbitrary. Scholars have also used concepts like ‘coupled human-environment systems’, ‘ecosocial systems’ and ‘socioecological systems´ to illustrate the interplay between social and ecological systems. The term social-ecological system was coined by Fikret Berkes and SRC’s research director Carl Folke in 1998 because they did not want to treat either the social or ecological dimension as a prefix, but rather give the two same weight during their analysis.


Cross-cutting values that underlie and should be analysed in all SwedBio’s operations are:

Poverty Alleviation – There are strong interrelated links between poverty, livelihoods and biodiversity. By addressing drivers of biodiversity loss, the vicious circle where loss of biodiversity creates vulnerability and poverty can be broken. Thus, the general SwedBio approach to poverty alleviation is that strengthened livelihoods based on good governance of social-ecological systems that are rich in biodiversity, is one contributing factor that can create opportunities for alleviating poverty. In many cases it is a prerequisite for success in efforts made.

Equity, Human Rights and Democracy – SwedBio has an important role to contribute to strengthened democracy and the rights perspective in all our activities. SwedBio works with a rights-based approach that analyzes power structures in society, the rights of the individual and the duties of states throughout the development process. The approach rests on the basic human rights principle of equal dignity and rights for all human beings, and is therefore also a tool for discovering and fighting discrimination. It includes poor and marginalised peoples’ perspective, gender equality and the empowerment and protection of vulnerable groups. In this work, SwedBio is also learning from and guided by policy’s for democratic development and human rights in Swedish development cooperation, such as principles on non-discrimination, participation, openness and transparency, and accountability for applying a human-rights based approach.

Respect for and promotion of indigenous and local knowledge helps in the realisation of human rights, self-determined development, and culturally appropriate pathways for strengthening local resource management, livelihoods and well-being. Inclusion of indigenous peoples and local communities and their knowledge in decision-making contributes to increased attention and respect for the knowledge, and thus for support to its influences on practices and policies.

Gender – SwedBio’s work is guided by a Gender and Development (GAD) perspective, recognising the need for deeper understanding of the different roles of poor rural women and men as managers of ecosystems. SwedBio’s most important source of work related to gender and resilient social-ecological systems comes from our partners. Many of them have a long and rich experience in working with gender and biodiversity issues, in the field, in international negotiations, and also through conducting studies on the issue.

Endogenous development – Endogenous development is based on local peoples’ own criteria for change and their vision for well-being based on the material, social and spiritual aspects of their livelihoods but in a constant and dynamic interface with external actors and the world around them. Endogenous development seeks to overcome a western bias by making peoples’ worldviews and livelihood strategies the starting point for development. Endogenous development moves beyond integrating traditional knowledge in mainstream development and seeks to build biocultural approaches that originate from local peoples worldviews and their relationship with the earth. Organisations can support and strengthen the endogenous development that is already present within the communities, promoting the interface between tradition and modernity. In doing so, endogenous development emphasises the cultural aspects within the development process, in addition to the ecological, social and economic aspects.