Social Indicators: A Tool to Measure Change Among Hypoxia Stakeholders

Author(s): Guzman, S.; Cossman, R.; Ingram, R.

Water quality problems that have accumulated over many decades similarily take decades to correct. This is the case when considering the complexity, scale, causes, and impacts of Gulf of Mexico hypoxia. Social dimension plays a key role because it is “people” who dictate interactions with the environment. Every individual (functionalized as “stakeholders”), community and culture has a set of beliefs and attitudes that guide decision-making and influence behavior. The success of nutrient reduction strategy implementation in state-designated priority watersheds depends upon a large percentage of watershed stakeholders understanding both the water quality impacts of their land use activities and the importance of conservation. Thus, an important social-environmental metric must include confirming that awareness and attitudes are changing, and behaviors are being adopted. Social indicators can inform planners and managers of modifications needed to their nutrient reduction strategies to increase their effectiveness. These social metrics such as input and feedback from stakeholders can supplement environmental metrics. In this poster we present the concept of social indicators as a viable metric for agricultural and water management. The ultimate goal is to increase the adoption of standardized social indicators as best practices for measuring watershed interventions.

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