SNAPP TEAM:Assessing Biocultural Indicators
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How can we use resilience indicators, defined through a biocultural approach, to learn how Pacific communities will cope with future change and to identify specific interventions to improve nature and human wellbeing?

Pacific Island communities face unprecedented challenges in conserving natural resources and maintaining human wellbeing. Despite best intentions to measure progress, international frameworks like the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were not necessarily designed to capture the complex linkages between humanity and nature and often miss opportunities to integrate diverse voices. In these place-based communities, the integrated social, economic, cultural and environmental connections between people and nature are believed to play a critical role in maintaining resilience.


OUR APPROACH: The team focused on adapting existing global indicator sets (like the SDGs) to incorporate Pacific worldviews and developed new indicators using Pacific values and visions of resilience and sustainable practices to fill gaps in existing frameworks. The team used a biocultural approach, incorporating social, ecological, and cultural information, to define locally-appropriate indicators of resilience to ensure that management interventions positively impact ecosystems and human well-being.

Team Status: ONGOING
Team Critical Challenge: The Value of Nature

Defining Culturally Relevant Indicators of Wellbeing

The group developed a list of 93 elements of wellbeing, and obtained feedback on the list from a broader group of Pacific Islanders to ensure that the elements were culturally relevant. They also developed a relational database and data entry portal to assess the SDG indicators against the new list of wellbeing elements.



“By including local peoples’ knowledges, values, and perspectives along with more generalized knowledge, we can develop more appropriate indicators and management approaches for achieving sustainability and well-being.”

-Eleanor Sterling, Team Co-Lead

Key Products
Tradition and conservation worldviews collide in Melanesia

The team’s paper in Pacific Conservation Biology recounts lessons from attempts at conservation measures across Melanesia, showcasing the challenges and opportunities that arise when worldviews collide.

Biocultural approaches to well-being and sustainability indicators across scales

In this Nature publication, the team posits that biocultural approaches and evidence synthesis are critical to developing metrics that facilitate linkages across scales and dimensions.

Culturally Grounded Indicators of Resilience in Social-Ecological Systems

This literature review published in Environment and Society explores the development of culturally grounded indicator sets to identify patterns and inform future efforts to build effective, culturally grounded measurement systems.

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Stacy Jupiter
Wildlife Conservation Society
Manuel Mejia
The Nature Conservancy
Eleanor Sterling
American Museum of Natural History
Tamara Ticktin
University of Hawaiʻi
Simon Albert
University of Queensland
Joachim Claudet
French National Center for Scientific Research
Rachel Dacks
University of Hawaiʻi
Chris Filardi
Conservation International
Alan Friedlander
National Geographic Society
Steven Gray
University of Michigan
Natalie Kurashima
University of Hawaiʻi
Lisa Mandle
Stanford University
Joe McCarter
American Museum of Natural History
Lihla Noori
Hawaiʻi Conservation Alliance
Pua’ala Pascua
University of Hawaiʻi
Ron Vave
University of Hawaiʻi
Supin Wongbusarakum
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
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