Living in harmony with nature is achievable only as a non-ideal vision

Doncaster, C. Patrick; Bullock, James M.. 2024 Living in harmony with nature is achievable only as a non-ideal vision. Environmental Science & Policy, 152, 103658. 8, pp.

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The UN Global Biodiversity Framework aligns with previous UN visions in equating human wellbeing with living in harmony with nature, setting goals for achieving it by 2050. The UN has yet to articulate fully what we can look forward to when we aspire to this vision. Living in harmony invokes an ideal state of being, yet nature embodies a perpetual struggle for existence. Here we argue that harmony with nature can engage only as a non-ideal vision, insofar as wellbeing requires an endlessly evolving relationship with nature. As an ideal model, the UN vision forces an unhelpful focus on current distance from the ideal state, which distracts from contemporary challenges. As a non-ideal progressive integration with nature’s processes and cycles, harmony serves as attribute not state. The non-ideal vision underpins engagement with restoring sustainable levels of natural capital, it accommodates a plurality of approaches to conserving nature, and it aligns with Earth-centred governance that embeds economies in nature, and with the principle of enforceable rights of nature. To date, this dynamic relationship with nature is a constitutional right for citizens of only four countries: Ecuador, Bolivia, São Tomé and Príncipe, and the Philippines. For other countries, essential elements of the relationship of people with nature remain bound to political ideologies. The eventual success of the UN in enabling collective action sufficient for planetary wellbeing depends on it having an achievable vision for harmony with nature’s processes and cycles, capable of functioning as a constitutional right.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Biodiversity (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 1462-9011
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: Convention on Biological Diversity, IPBES, Rights of Nature, United Nations, value of nature
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
General > Science Policy
Date made live: 05 Jan 2024 14:30 +0 (UTC)

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