Resilience and adaptive capacity in social-ecological systems: the good, the bad and the trendy
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Resilience and adaptive capacity in social-ecological systems: the good, the bad and the trendy

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Social-ecological systems in emerging democracies are often in an untenable state. Under such conditions, building resilience is not appropriate and transformation is the way forward. In this ...

Social-ecological systems in emerging democracies are often in an untenable state. Under such conditions, building resilience is not appropriate and transformation is the way forward. In this presentation I briefly explain the theoretical underpinnings of resilience and transformation and provide examples of transformative strategies from communal areas in South Africa and Tajikistan to explain.

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Resilience and adaptive capacity in social-ecological systems: the good, the bad and the trendy Resilience and adaptive capacity in social-ecological systems: the good, the bad and the trendy Presentation Transcript

  • Resilience and adaptive capacity in social-ecological systems: the good, the bad and the trendy Christo Fabricius Resilience Alliance
  • Here it is…
  • Social-ecological systems from Ostrom 2009. Science 235: 420
  • resilience• The ability to absorb disturbances• Capacity of the system to be changed – and then to re-organise – and still retain the same basic structure and ways of functioning• Declining resilience -> declining magnitude of shocks from which system cannot recover
  • Resilience Time
  • The Resilience of the Earth System
  • The slippery slope of resilience loss Cundill & Fabricius 2009 in Exploring Sustainability Science: a Southern African perspective, pp. 537-568.
  • Adaptive renewal cycle • Several possible states • Crucial role of disturbance • Irregular cycles of ‘capital’ accumulation, release and re-organization • Feedbacks between and within scales
  • Lock-in traps • An undesirable state from which ‘escape’ is difficult • The system has become locked in • Characterized by • low potential for change • rigidity • high resistance to change • Sources of novelty and innovation have been eliminatedAllison, H. E. and R. J. Hobbs. 2004. Ecology andSociety 9(1): 3.
  • Thresholds and regime shifts
  • The problem with resilience..
  • • What if the system is not in a good place? – would adapting and ‘bouncing back’ be enough?• Some untenable situations can be very resilient
  • • Elements of adaptive capacity, e.g. – traditions, sense of place, identity• might inhibit meaningful change• Response: reduce resilience?
  • A ‘resilience’ approach to development..
  • Transfer of vulnerability Building resilience in one context sometimes creates vulnerabilities in another
  • Transformation• Transformability: “The capacity to create a fundamentally new system when ecological, economic, or social (including political) conditions make the existing system untenable” www.resalliance.orgWalker et al. 2004. Ecology and Society 9(2): 5.
  • “can we innovate sufficiently rapidly and withsufficient intelligence to transform our systemout of a destructive pathway….”Westley et al. 2011. Ambio 40: 762-789
  • Processes of transformation• Institutional • Bridging agents • Earth stewardship entrepreneurs • Connectors • Incentives• Behind the scenes’ • Communities of • Monitoring innovations practice • Adaptive management• Shadow networks • Repair & restoration www.stockholmresilience.su.se
  • Transformation through knowledge sharing & interrogating conventional beliefs
  • Transformation throughcreating new awareness
  • Transformation through learning Forming alliances and knowledge networks
  • Transformation through institutional renewal Leadership: the importance of ‘key individuals’ or ‘stewards’
  • Transformation through linkages and alliances
  • Transformation through repair of ecosystem services
  • A few research questions• What can we learn from existing self-organizing transformations? – the role of citizen’s science• Which social-ecological processes promote and inhibit transformation?• What are the long term impacts of adaptation vs. transformation?• Challenges: – hold our frameworks loosely – embrace multiple epistemologies – be prepared to tread ‘where angels fear to go’