Pelenc, Jérôme (2009). "Linking empowerment, collective capabilities and environmental functions: toward a new conceptual framework to assess management of socio-ecological systems" Paper presented at the 6th annual conference of the HDCA, 10-12 September 2009, Lima, Peru.

Since Rio international conference on sustainable development 'participatory' and 'community-based' approaches are often heralded as the panacea to natural resource management initiatives world-wide. But, their success is controversial may be because it is still not exist an assessment space of well-being which is really integrating the three dimension of sustainable development. Therefore, it is necessary to draw up a conceptual framework to assess in sustainable way co-management and empowerment tools and also their relationships. We try in this paper, to make an effort in this direction by building an alternative assessment space of well-being by crossing Sen’s capability approach and Critical Natural Capital that we named capability approach extended to ecological dimension. The reasoning built in the present text, allows us to conclude that capability is a hybrid of Nature and Society and that it is compounded of three overlapped expression spaces (ecological, social and economical). Considering environmental functions as a source of capabilities (as freedoms) involves that conservation and enhancement of availability and quality of environmental functions should be also regarded as a goal for a “development as freedom”. Conversion of environmental function into determinants of well-being becomes a major issue for development. Management and empowerment appear as key processes to orient this conversion toward sustainable way. In this perspective we state that the framework we build in the paper, could help to better characterized adaptive capacity of poor (and of SES in which they take part) by assessing the sustainability of their functionings. By recognising that capability is compounded of three overlapped expression spaces, the different pillars of SD are no more conceptually independent but de facto reunified, reintegrated. At least, we will have a tool to study how individuals are interacting with nature and with other persons about Nature, to better understand how it is possible to improve institutions for dealing with change i.e. building adaptive co-management.