9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN12 Environment and Society

2009-09-04 13:30:00 2009-09-04 15:00:00 Friday, 4 September 13:30 - 15:00 Biodiversity Protection Building I, Auditório 4

Intercultural Perspectives. The missing link in the discussion about Sustainable Nature Management

In most European countries immigration takes place since decades. Irrespectively of the reasons, whether due to colonial heritage or because of miserable economical current and future perspectives, the composition of the national population has changed into an intercultural mixture. For instance in Germany about 20% of the population has a migration background. Evidently the idea of the existence of homogeneity inside cultural boundaries is a construction. As nature culture is a permanently changing historical result of variably intensive processes of adaption and demarcation.
What is known in Europe about the attitudes of migrants towards nature and its management? Which interests and demands regarding environmental and sustainability issues they show? Which kind of experiences and strategies exist in European countries to integrate migrants´ know-how and views, i.e. how do they participate in nature management processes?
In Germany up to now neither the big environmental organisations, the environmental policy institutions, the scientific and public discourse on sustainable development nor research on sustainable development issues have integrated intercultural aspects. Due to this the percentage of immigrants engaged in environmentally relevant business as volunteers or as employees is very low. There are little activities such as environmental education projects at a local level according to committed individuals in environmental and migrant organisations respectively, intercultural garden initiatives or activities from religious groups to combine ecological necessities with Islamic rules especially in the UK. Beyond this the (research) efforts on linking the perspectives of migrants with environmental issues seem to be low Europe-wide.
The contribution introduces results of first studies on the relation of migrants towards nature (management) in Germany. How migrants in professional education percept and esteem nature, natural resources and landscapes is highlighted in addition to their every day acting in regard to nature or environment. Qualitative data on the conditions to and obstacles for an adequate consideration of intercultural aspects, e.g. the existing mental images and ideas about migrants´ interests in nature (management) and sustainability issues by environmental actors are presented.