Is the solution the problem? The fate of the Hyacinth Macaw.

Is sustainable thinking isolating parts of our system that are inherently linked – sustainable food system, sustainable property, sustainable population growth. Whilst our system is potentially too ‘large’ for any one person or team to cope with we are isolating possible combined solutions.

The hyacinth macaw from central Brazil is in decline and researchers have found that it is very particular about nesting in the manduvi tree for its nests, and that these trees are also in decline but they also have one main predator, the toco toucan. So how would siloed sustainability teams solve this.  Now, if sustainable property teams got hold of this research they might identify that they need more trees to help sustain and grow the hyacinth macaw population. They would find that the toucan was responsible for propagating these trees, they would likely encourage the growth of the toco toucan population to propagate more trees and therefore save the hyacinth macaw population.

At the same time a group of sustainable population consultants got together and identified through research that the key predator to the hyacinth macaw was the toco toucan – its very partial to the eggs of the hyacinth macaw. They in turn, might conclude that in order to save the hyacinth macaw population the population of toco toucan should be controlled.

The problem and the solution to the preservation of the hyacinth macaw is the toco toucan. “Everything under the sun”, David Suzuki and Ian Hannington. 

In isolating parts of the system we often find ourselves compensating or undoing the solutions that another part of the system has implemented or vice versa. Or, neither of us have worked out what the other is doing and we can’t work out why our solutions aren’t working. Sit back and think about it for a while, I know that you will be able to find an example somewhere in your experiences.

Co-creating action or solutions can be very hard politically, financially and without a relationship formed to engender trust that others will play out their part. But there is a step before this that is a lot less susceptible to the barriers of action.

The step before action is to co-create the future stories or future scenarios. What could the future scenarios be for the hyacinth macaw? What would a future of more toco toucans and less manduvi trees look like, what would less toco toucans and more manduvi trees look like? How do we adapt to these different scenarios and how do we transform ourselves and the system should these scenarios play out?

Co-creating these scenarios can transform the isolated players and the system itself.

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