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In this reflectary, you will find key terms on sustainable development, climate change and anthropocentrism.

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Icono de una persona de pie con un megáfono en la mano.


Advocacy (Incidencia política) This is the set of actions to influence the decisions and behaviors of decision makers. The goal is to position the causes and interests of a specific group of people or citizens. References: Collado, H. (2015). Incidencia política: concepto, importancia y herramientas.    Photo credit: bearsky23 Have any questions? MODII can help! Send your query

Imagen satelital del planeta Tierra. Una extensa porción de bosques tiene focos de incendio.


Anthropocene (Antropoceno) This term was coined by Paul Crutzen and Eugene Stoermer in 2000 to refer to a new geological epoche to succeed or replace the Holocene. It comes from the greek anthropos, which means ‘human’, and cene which means ‘new or recent’. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), ‘the Anthropocene is a proposed new geological epoch resulting from significant

Una ciudad con nieve en la que más de una decena de chimeneas lanzan emisiones de humo al ambiente.


Anthropogenic (Antropogénico) Anthropogenic ‘effects, processes, objects, or materials are those that are derived from human activities, as opposed to those occurring in natural environments without human influences’ (AEMET and OECC, 2018). This is widely used to refer to things that originate from humans and have effects on nature. It is associated to phenomena resulting from human activities, especially industrial ones, including

Ilustración del mundo con una variedad de animales y plantas a su alrededor.


Biodiversity (Biodiversidad) Biodiversity is understood as the variety of life forms across all levels of biological organization. That is, the number and relative abundance of species, genes, and ecosystems in a specific area. High levels of biodiversity ensure that ecosystems operate in a healthy way. Experts argue that, based on an anthropocentric vision, high levels of biodiversity and healthy ecosystems are key to

Una niña y un niño hacen pequeñas construcciones con palitos de madera en un bosque.


Biomimicry (Biomímesis) This is a discipline that studies nature as a source of inspiration. It implements the lessons learnt to create designs, technologies, and innovative processes while providing sustainable solutions to human problems. The goal of biomimicry is to learn from the organisms and their ecosystems to move towards a healthier life, to use more sustainable and regenerative technologies, and

Doce huellas dactilares con el símbolo del dióxido de carbono (CO2).

Carbon footprint

Carbon footprint (Huella de carbono) “The carbon footprint is a measure of the exclusive total amount of carbon dioxide emissions that is directly and indirectly caused by an activity or is accumulated over the life stages of a product” (Wiedman and Minx, 2008) This term is commonly used in civil society organizations and in the press. It has also become

Miles de peces nadando en el mar, uno al lado del otro

Carrying capacity

Carrying capacity (Capacidad de carga) Carrying capacity is the maximum number of individuals that a habitat can support based on its resources without having adverse effects on the population or the environment. Factors that determine the carrying capacity of a species include food, water, demographic aspects, climate, and shelter, among others. Carrying capacity is not fixed or static, instead, it

Ilustración de grandes flechas que forman un círculo. Sobre las flechas, hay varios elementos, como agua, cestos de separación de residuos, plantas y aerogeneradores.

Circular economy

Circular economy (Economía circular) Circular economy is a new term. It has been used for some time in Spain and has recently become popular in Latin America as well. There are two complementary approaches regarding its meaning. On the one hand, the European Parliament defines circular economy as ‘an economy, where the value of products, materials and resources is maintained for

Imagen partida en dos. En una mitad, está el esqueleto de un pez en la tierra seca y agrietada. En la otra mitad, el pez nada en el agua.

Climate change

Climate change (Cambio climático) According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), ‘Climate change refers to a change in the state of the climate that can be identified (e.g., by using statistical tests) by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer’ (IPCC, 2018). For the IPCC,

Figura de reloj de arena. En el compartimiento inferior, hay un gran fuego. En el compartimiento superior, el mundo se derrite a causa del calor.

Climate crisis

Climate crisis (Crisis climática) The term climate crisis is commonly understood as an extreme situation of an imminent environmental and social catastrophe resulting from climate change with an anthropogenic origin. The term refers to a serious situation that is altering the earth’s natural balance and that risks life on Earth. The concept emphasizes the need to take urgent action to reduce or halt climate change and

Una imagen del espacio en el que el planeta Tierra está prendido fuego con llamas a su alrededor.

Climate emergency

Climate emergency (Emergencia climática) Various countries and locations have declared a climate emergency. However, the term is not clearly defined, nor is there a consensus regarding its definition. The expression refers to a regulatory instrument to declare a dangerous situation or climate disaster which requires immediate action and authorizing public authorities to make decisions and take the necessary measures to

Dos mujeres sostienen carteles en una manifestación. Los carteles están escritos en inglés y en ellos se pide que cambie el sistema y que no haya cambio climático.

Climate justice

Climate justice (Justicia climática) The concept refers to the social demands of the climate movement and the young environmentalist organizations to recognize that the climate crisis generates and accentuates inequalities between territories and people. It is considered a human and civil rights movement that places the most vulnerable people and communities at the centre of climate effects. From the perspective of climate justice, the

Imagen aérea del peñón de Guatapé en Colombia. Hay montañas, construcciones, un curso de agua y el cielo con nubes.

Common natural assets

Common natural assets (Bienes naturales comunes) Common natural assets or natural resources are objects that are naturally existing on earth. They are valuable to manufacture products, meet needs, and provide ecosystem services. The international community—especially the Inter-American System for the protection of human rights—uses the expression natural resources considering the special relation that indigenous and tribal peoples have with their territory. However, the academic sector and civil



Consumerism (Consumismo) A social and economic behaviour related to acquiring and accumulating non-essential goods and services. It has serious environmental and social effects. This term is commonly used in civil society organizations and in the press. This trend is strengthened and fuelled by the current economic system that associates consumption with happiness, satisfaction, and social belonging. At the same time,

Ilustración del planeta Tierra con ojos y boca que expresan tristeza y llanto. Sobre el planeta, hay desechos, latas y residuos tecnológicos.


Degrowth (Decrecimiento ) This term generates extensive debate in academia and civil society. This theory questions the paradigm of economic growth from the quantitative and qualitative perspective; it aims to prioritize social and environmental values above economic accumulation. It is based on the belief that it is impossible to continue with the current rhythm of economic growth and indefinite material accumulation

Símbolo de la mujer en verde, con un árbol dentro del círculo.


Ecofeminisms (Ecofeminismos) This is a wave of feminism that emerged in the mid 1970s. It centres on analyzing how the current development model led to the excessive exploitation of the common natural assets and how this affects women especially. Ecofeminisms focus on the connection between the exploitation of nature and women’s oppression, paying special attention to the relationship between nature,

Primer plano de un instrumento para medir las precipitaciones, clavado en la tierra de una zona inundada.

Ecological deficit

Ecological deficit (Déficit ecológico) An ecological deficit occurs when a population’s ecological footprint surpasses the biocapacity of the place where they live. This refers to the imbalance created when the level of consumption of common natural assets and the level of waste and pollution generated by a community exceeds the natural sustainable production and its ability to absorb the waste. This indicator is related to the planetary boundaries and with

Huella humana gigante en medio de los árboles de un bosque.

Ecological footprint

Ecological footprint (Huella ecológica) An ecological footprint is an indicator of the environmental impact that occurs when a certain population demands the common natural assets that it requires to produce what it consumes. This indicator measures the surface area that is necessary to produce these resources and absorb the impacts, the greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, and the waste of said population. The

Dos niñas sostienen carteles en una manifestación en Río de Janeiro. Piden que se salve al Amazonas. De fondo, hay más personas agrupadas.

Ecological justice

Ecological justice (Justicia ecológica) The concept refers to the social demands of the environmental movement and the environmentalist organizations to recognize the ecological crisis, for humans to assume their responsibility, and for decisions to be made urgently to address it. It proposes a change in the paradigm where human development respects the planet’s ecological demands and planetary boundaries. Ecological justice is not

ilustración en formato vertical con figuras como bicicletas, paneles solares, árboles y casas que aparecen en diferentes niveles. Los niveles están divididos por un cable. En el plano superior, una fábrica.

Ecological transition

Ecological transition (Transición ecológica) The word ecological transition refers to a process of ecological and social transformation that is necessary to address global change and the climate crisis. It entails a paradigm shift with significant transformations in the economic model, especially regarding the production and consumption systems, and in the use of fossil fuels. It also refers to changes in the social and political institutions,