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Title: Safe operating space for development and ecosystem services in Bangladesh
Author: Sohel, Md Sarwar
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 8275
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis makes a first attempt to operationalize the safe operating space concept at regional scale by considering the dynamic relationships between social and ecological systems. Time series data for a range of ecosystem services (ES) and human wellbeing (HWB) are analysed to understand the co-evolution (trends, change points, slow and fast variables and drivers) of the Bangladesh delta social-ecological system (SES). The linkages between ES and HWB are analysed using regression models (GAM, linear and logistic) to develop a system model, which is used in a system dynamic (SD) model to demonstrate the safe operating space for the SES in the Bangladesh delta. I employ the model to explore eight ‘what if’ scenarios based on well-known challenges (e.g. climate change) and current policy debates (e.g. subsidy withdrawals). Since the 1980s, HWB has improved in the Bangladesh delta mirroring rising levels of food and inland fish production. In contrast, ES have deteriorated since the 1960s in terms of water availability, water quality and land stability in the Bangladesh delta. The overall results suggest that material well-being (basic materials for a good life) have a strong relationship with provisioning services, which in turn, show a weak relationship with the quality of life (security and health). The SD model suggests that the Bangladesh delta may move beyond a safe operating space when a withdrawal of a 50% subsidy for agriculture is combined with the effects of a 2 oC temperature increase and sea level rise. Further reductions in upstream river discharge in the Ganges would push the system towards a dangerous zone once a 3.5 oC temperature increase was reached. The social-ecological system in the Bangladesh delta may be operated within a safe space by: 1) managing feedback (e.g. by reducing production costs) and the slow biophysical variables (e.g. temperature, rainfall) to increase long-term resilience, 2) negotiating for transboundary water resources and 3) also possibly by revising the global policy (e.g. withdrawal of subsidy) to implement at regional scale. This study demonstrates how the concepts of tipping points, limits to adaptations and boundaries for sustainable development may be defined in real world social-ecological systems.
Supervisor: Dearing, John ; Eigenbrod, Felix ; Amoako Johnson, Fiifi Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available