Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy

People in Nature (PiN)

An IUCN knowledge basket on the interrelationships between people and nature
Stateless women weaving Nypa thatch Ban Lam Poo (2)

People benefit from flows of resources and services provided by nature, yet this relationship remains insufficiently recognized in planning and policy.

People benefit from nature in terms of food and nutrition, health and medicine, energy, materials and fibres, clean, safe and available water. At the same time, this material utility is embedded within worldviews that include deep-seated cultural norms, values, identities and beliefs. A poorly understood area of conservation and development planning is the multi-faced role played by species and ecosystems in the lives of rural Indigenous Peoples and local communities. The absence of mechanisms for decision-makers to systematically consider use of biological resources flowing from a spectrum of habitats can result in interventions that convert or damage critical aspects of biodiversity vital to local livelihoods and wellbeing.

People in Nature (PiN), formerly known as Human Dependence on Nature (HDN), will promote learning amongst participants to improve our understanding of how nature contributes to local livelihoods and well-being. PiN will focus on material use while considering cultural narratives that express symbolic interrelationships with nature. Through its development and application, People in Nature aspires to evolve into a comprehensive knowledge basket, comprising approaches, tools, standards and associated capacity building to allow for better data collection, documentation and understanding of local social-ecological contexts that are relevant to policy formulation and development interventions and that result in tangible improvements to natural resource dependent livelihoods and well-being.

IUCN initiated the development of the People in Nature knowledge basket at the 2012 World Conservation Congress in Jeju, Korea. Following the “One Programme” approach, a Steering Committee was formed with representation from the IUCN Secretariat, Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP) and its cross-commission themes and members. The Steering Committee is composed of members that represent various roles among the CEESP working groups and other IUCN commissions as well as the Secretariat. The role of the Steering Committee is to guide PiN in terms of research, project design, assessment and evaluation and to oversee PiN working groups and early application projects.  

The HDN team at Yorkin, Sixaola Basin, Costa Rica...

The PiN team at Yorkin, Sixaola Basin, Costa Rica in March 2015
Top: Helen Suich (Steering Group, SULI), Tristan Tyrrell (Steering Group, CEM), Julian Idrobo (Advisor), Pedro Cordero (Regional Project Officer), Yorkin community members, Marta Perez de Madrid (Technical Officer, ORMACC), Adalberto Padilla (Senior Officer, Indigenous Issues, ORMACC) Bottom: Gonzalo Oviedo (Senior Advisor - Social Policy), Gernot Brodnig (Steering Group, Director Global Economic and Social Science Programme), Nick Conner (Steering Group, TILCEPA), Mariana Rodriguez (PhD student), Kaia Boe (Social Science and Ecosystems Programme Officer), Trust Beta (Advisor), Nathalie Olsen (Core & Steering Group, Head Global Economics and Finance Unit), Kristen Walker (Steering Group, SPICEH), Olivia Sylvester (Advisor), Iain Davidson Hunt (Core & Steering Group, TSL), Masego Madzwamuse (Core & Steering Group, TSL) Not in photo: Nathan Deutsch (CEESP Consultant) Photo: Nathan Deutsch

In building PiN, IUCN is able to bring knowledge gained from work on the ground in international policy fora through its Thematic and Regional Programmes, its expert Commissions, and through its engagement with wide institutional membership. The PiN knowledge basket draws on experience from IUCN knowledge products and initiatives, such as the Red List of Threatened Species™, in providing standards and methodologies to generate and scale-up information for global impact and to influence policy and decision-making. As such, the knowledge basket aims to collaboratively work towards understanding and safeguarding sustainable, nature-based solutions embedded in local human-ecosystem relationships, and contribute to relevant policy regarding conservation and development interventions. PiN has broad potential for application, with implications in domains such as food and nutrition security, poverty alleviation, climate change adaptation, large-scale infrastructure development and land use planning and policy relevance for CBD, SDGs, and IPBES.

The PiN knowledge basket is in an early stage of development. The PiN team is simultaneously working towards both conceptual framework development and early application in the field through engagement with IUCN regions and members within regions. A series of discussion papers addressing concepts and methodologies relevant to PiN are published as a compilation volume, which was launched during the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii in September 2016. The compilation volume, titled "People in Nature: Valuing the diversity of interrelationships between people and nature" is available to download from the IUCN Library.

As conceptual development proceeds, PiN is working with several regional programmes and projects to collaboratively develop and refine PiN approaches and methodologies in the field. The ORMACC regional office is collaborating with the PiN Steering Group for early PiN engagement in the Sixaola watershed in Costa Rica. The PiN team is doing work on understanding the biodiversity-based system and around the cultural narratives of the Bribri communities to capture their relationships with nature. In addition, the PiN team is starting to explore working in Eastern and Southern Africa. The Steering Group and PiN Africa Working Group are exploring early application of PiN within IUCN’s SUSTAIN-Africa initiative in Tanzania and Mozambique and a project focused on food security and climate change adaptation in Malawi, linked to work carried out by Chancellor University in Malawi, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) and the University of Manitoba in Canada.

This informational website is a hub to gather and make available information and resources related to design and early application of PiN. PiN is in active development. We encourage visitors to check back periodically for news and chances to participate in PiN activities and initiatives.

If you have any questions or would like to become involved in People in Nature, please write to

PIN Meeting October 2015 

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