ICTA-UAB researcher Gara Villalba receives an ERC Consolidator Grant

The European Research Council (ERC) announced the recipients of its Consolidator Grant competition: 291 top scientists across Europe.

The ICTA-UAB awarded an Erasmus+ for running a project on higher education and research in Biosphere Reserves

For the first time since its founding, the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) has been awarded approximately 1 million euros by the European Commission through the Erasmus+ funding scheme.

ICTA-UAB contributes to bridging science and society in the 100xCiencia.3

ICTA-UAB took part in the 100xCiencia.3 “Bringing Science and Society”, the annual event of the SOMMa Alliance held on November 15th at the CNIO in Madrid.

Citizens prefer landscapes that combine nature with built infrastructure

A pioneering study analyses the photographs shared by citizens in social networks to evaluate the aesthetic consideration of natural landscapes.

Co-managed small-scale fisheries lead to social and ecological improvements

The co-management model of small groups of fishermen contributes to a greater abundance and habitats of species.

ICTA-UAB to design participative and concurred forest fire prevention strategies for the Montseny region

Scientists from the Institute for Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) aim to design prevention strategies for forest fires occurring in the Montseny Biosphere Reserve through a citizen participation process.

Nace El Observatorio del Besòs: un proyecto de seguimiento de la calidad de los sistemas fluviales de la cuenca

La Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) a través del Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals (ICTA-UAB), y el Consorci Besòs Tordera evaluarán el estado de calidad a largo plazo de la cuenca del Besòs gracias a la creación de la Observatorio del Besòs.

Shift in large-scale Atlantic circulation causes lower-oxygen water to invade Canada's Gulf of St. Lawrence

The Gulf of St. Lawrence has warmed and lost oxygen faster than almost anywhere else in the global oceans.

Climate Change Modifies the Composition of Reefs

Corals devastated by climate change are being replaced naturally by other species such as gorgonians, which are less efficient in acting as a carbon sink.

ICTA-UAB launches the first master’s Degree in “Political Ecology. Degrowth and Environmental Justice”

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA-UAB) launches the master’s Degree in “Political Ecology.

Pioneering study analyses the effects of forests on human health

A group of volunteers have participated in an experimental study conducted by the ICTA-UAB to analyse the potential health benefits of forests.

Marine Litter on Mediterranean Beaches Triples in Summer

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) analyses and quantifies the waste generated by tourists in eight islands of the Mediterranean as part of the European BLUEISLANDS project.

Mapping the Urban Vitality of Barcelona

Researchers at the UAB have mapped Barcelona and and 9 surrounding towns using a new methodology based on urbanism activist Jane Jacobs' ideas on how cities should be configured to become vital spaces: 25% of the area is classified as having high vitality.

Agricultural intensification not a “blueprint” for sustainable development

Social and ecological results of increased agricultural intensification are not as positive as expected.

Green urban planning must consider social equity criteria

Cities that do not include social equity criteria into their political strategies to make their urban environment greener and more ecological will not achieve long-term sustainability and risk creating green enclaves only for the social elite.

The ICTA-UAB alerts of a new invasive Asian beetle pest in Catalonia that kills mulberry trees

A study by researcher of the ICTA-UAB and the Department of Agriculture Víctor Sarto i Monteys has identified in the province of Barcelona the presence of a species from Asia that could spread through Europe.

More than 120 ICTA-UAB researchers addressed environmental challenges at a symposium, especially those arising from global and...

The Institut of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) organized its 1st Spring Symposium with the aim of addressing some of the main environmental and sustainability challenges.

Low-carbon energy transition requires more renewables than previously thought

A new study by ICTA-UAB analyzes the impacts on lifestyles of substituting fossil fuels for cleaner energies.

Climate Change Threatens World's Largest Seagrass Carbon Stores

Shark Bay seagrass carbon storage hotspot suffers alarming losses after a devastating marine heat wave, according to a study led by ICTA-UAB researchers.

Amazon's indigenous people hunt animals feeding in areas contaminated by oil spills

A study by the ICTA-UAB and the UAB Department of Animal Health and Anatomy demonstrates that the main species hunted by the indigenous popoulations of the Peruvian Amazon ingest water and soil contaminated with hidrocarbons and heavy metals.

The new Planttes app warns of allergy risks in different urban areas

The Planttes application is a citizen science project which aims to encourage people to identify and locate on a map the existence of allergy-causing plants and indicate their phenological state.

ICTA-UAB’s success: five ERC grants in two years

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) has been awarded five European Research Council (ERC) grants in two years, which is about ten per cent of all ERC grants arriving in Catalonia over the period from the end of 2015 to the end of 2017.

New ICTA-UAB 'Welcome Guide'

The new ICTA-UAB 'Welcome Guide' it is at your disposal now. With this document, we aim to help you discover the basics of the PhD programme, ICTA-UAB’s structure, etc.
News
Social Relations, Success in Hunting and Good Health, Sources of Happiness for Indigenous People

Date: 2017-01-26

El concepte de felicitat als pobles indígenes
 

  • Rural and indigenous people from the Global South push absolute income into the background as source of wellbeing.
     
  • An ICTA-UAB study led by Dr. Victoria Reyes-García reports that some socio-economic development policies in the Global South, especially those not designed according to local culture, might negatively impact wellbeing in unforeseen ways.

Socio-economic development projects in indigenous and rural communities in the Global South might have a negative impact on the happiness and wellbeing of the local population, which values social relations, health and success in subsistence activities over economic income.

This is what emerges from a study by scientists at the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) led by Dr. Victoria Reyes-García which analyses the factors influencing happiness among rural and indigenous people. The research was based on the analysis of three indigenous societies in Borneo, the Congo Basin and Amazonia.
With one million Euros in funding through a Starting Grant awarded to Dr. Victoria Reyes-García by the European Research Council (within the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Union), the project was based on an in-depth study of these three indigenous societies over a period of five years, in order to gain greater insights into their specific conception of happiness (as a synonym of wellbeing and life satisfaction), which until now has been studied mainly from a Western perspective. As market economies expand throughout rural societies, the study aims to know the extent to which globalization and access to market goods could impact the quality of life of rural and indigenous peoples from the Global South.

Although absolute incomes are well valued by indigenous people, they are pushed into the background when assessing their level of wellbeing. Their sense of happiness centres on activities such as spending time with family or receiving visitors, on success in common subsistence activities such as hunting and fishing, and on health. "Income might relate to wellbeing only until a consumption satiation point is reach, where all basic needs are met; beyond this threshold, income is unlikely to increase wellbeing", explains Dr. Victoria Reyes-García and remarks that the pursuit of income generating activities deprives individuals from devoting time to those activities that make them happy, such as socializing and subsistence activities.

To fulfil basic human needs, governments invest resources in different types of social services and development programs, such as raising incomes, providing universal education and health care, especially among people with low levels of income. However, these initiatives might also negatively impact wellbeing, especially if development programs are not designed according to local cultures.

For example, schooling programs which are not contextualised can lead young individuals to give up traditional activities (hunting, finding and using medicinal plants), resulting in a loss of local environmental knowledge and subsistence skills, which are some of the main sources of happiness. It is not just about making education available to everyone, but also to develop culturally-sensitive educational systems.

Researchers also found that village-level income inequality might impair upon wellbeing in a different way than country-level income inequality. At the country-level, income inequality is associated with improvement opportunities, whereas at the village-level, income inequality might have negative effects such as envy, thereby reducing wellbeing.

Dr. Reyes-García emphasizes that "policies with a narrow focus on raising income levels can potentially have unexpected consequences for wellbeing if they do not take into consideration income distribution". The research concludes that although happiness seems to be universal, some of its drivers vary according to culture. The study provides alternative views of the concept, with the potential to inform and guide general wellbeing policies.

In order to conduct the research, the members of the research group lived for 18 months with the communities of the Punan Tubu (hunter-gatherers of Borneo, Indonesia), the Baka (semi-nomads from the  Congo River basin) and the Tsimane' (forager-horticulturists from the Bolivian Amazonia). On completing this project (The Adaptive Nature of Culture: A cross-cultural analysis of the returns of Local Environmental Knowledge in three indigenous societies"), the group issued a comprehensive report with the principal conclusions drawn in Spanish, English and French. 


Further information
Report on the project in Spanish: http://icta.uab.cat/etnoecologia/Docs/[504]-pb3es.pdf
Report on the project in English: http://icta.uab.cat/etnoecologia/Docs/[502]-pb3en.pdf
Report on the project in French: http://icta.uab.cat/etnoecologia/Docs/[503]-pb3fr.pdf

 

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