Resilient Human Communities - Social-Ecological Resilience Theory


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Margaret Reams, Ph.D. LSU Superfund Research Program and the Department of Environmental Sciences

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Resilient Human Communities - Social-Ecological Resilience Theory

  1. 1. Resilient Human Communities Social-Ecological Resilience Theory Margaret Reams, Ph.D. LSU Superfund Research Program and the Department of Environmental Sciences
  2. 2. Social-Ecological Resilience provides a theory base and evaluative framework for: • Sustainable development • Wiser use and protection of natural resources & environmental services • Adaptation to reduce exposure to or recovery from disruptive events – either fast-moving or slowmoving disturbances
  3. 3. Resilience within the Adaptive Cycle (Folke, Holling, et al. 2002)
  4. 4. Some Definitions of Resilience “Resilience reflects the degree to which a complex adaptive system is capable of self-organization and the degree to which the system can build capacity for learning and adaptation.” “The capacity of linked social-ecological systems to absorb recurrent disturbances such as hurricanes or floods so as to retain essential structures, processes, and feedbacks.” From Adger et al., 2005, Science Vol. 309
  5. 5. Thinking of Linked Social-Ecological Systems The Raft – A Metaphor of Stability and Resilience Ludwig’s model is useful (2002). The raft’s system? Raft + Weight + Lake System Disruptions? Either rapid or slow increase in weight. Key Variables? Include Adaptive Behavior of Occupants
  6. 6. What Influences the Raft’s Resilience? • Its own physical characteristics • The environment into which it’s deployed • Institutions for decision making • Resources of inhabitants to adapt to changing risks • Awareness of changing environmental risks • Extent to which information is shared among stakeholders Raft’s resilience can’t be determined without considering these factors.
  7. 7. Recovery in Human Communities (Alpha) • Social & Economic Capital • Scientific understanding of changing risks • Information is shared widely • Collective actions based on broad stakeholder input Adaptive Cycle (Folke, Holling, et al. 2002) • Collective and individual adaptations to mitigate impacts from future disturbances
  8. 8. Dimensions of Resilience Community Attributes Ability to Self-Organize • Social Networks & Associations • Information Sharing • Inclusive Decision Making Holistic Understanding of Changing Risks • Reflects Sound Science • New Knowledge Acquisition • Strong Local Knowledge Base Ability to Adapt • High Stakeholder Participation • Risk Mitigation Tools • Flexibility among Decision Makers
  9. 9. Today’s Symposium Participants Play a Key Role in Building Resilience Creating organizations for community stakeholders to come together to consider environmental conditions Building the capacity of residents to participate in public planning Conducting research that helps advance scientific understanding of changing environmental conditions Developing public policy to protect environmental quality & public health Helping to educate Louisiana citizens about risks and mitigation strategies
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