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Understanding the Past to Envision a Sustainable Future: A Social–Ecological History of the Barranquilla Metropolitan Area (Colombia)

1
Social-Ecological Systems Laboratory, Department of Ecology, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, C/Darwin 2, 28049 Madrid, Spain
2
Caribbean Biodiversity Center, Departamento de Química y Biología, Universidad del Norte, Km. 5 vía Puerto Colombia, Atlántico, Colombia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2018, 10(7), 2247; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10072247
Received: 19 May 2018 / Revised: 22 June 2018 / Accepted: 27 June 2018 / Published: 29 June 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social-Ecological Systems. Facing Global Transformations)
Urban growth is one of the major sustainability challenges due to its regional and planetary impacts. In the Colombian Caribbean, one of the most biodiverse places in the world, the Barranquilla Metropolitan Area (BMA) is the main urban agglomeration that has driven landscape transformation. We performed a historical analysis of human–nature relationships in the BMA using a social–ecological approach and the adaptive cycle metaphor to identify the main drivers of change and to point out emergent lessons for sustainability transition. Based on the analysis of existing literature, time series data and ecosystem distribution changes through time, we found that the natural capital has been degraded, human–social capital has had periods of crisis and recovery, while physical–financial capital has increased. The BMA is currently in a highly vulnerable situation and faces great challenges to be sustainable. We discuss the system´s possible future paths: a new collapse due to natural capital depletion, stagnation in a very vulnerable state, or a reorganization. We argue that viewing and managing the BMA as a social–ecological system would contribute to move forward in a sustainable direction. View Full-Text
Keywords: social–ecological history; Colombia; adaptive cycle; social–ecological approach; urban growth; sustainability transition social–ecological history; Colombia; adaptive cycle; social–ecological approach; urban growth; sustainability transition
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Aldana-Domínguez, J.; Montes, C.; González, J.A. Understanding the Past to Envision a Sustainable Future: A Social–Ecological History of the Barranquilla Metropolitan Area (Colombia). Sustainability 2018, 10, 2247.

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