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Per Olsson - Critical thresholds and transformations


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Presentation at the STEPS Conference 2010 - Pathways to Sustainability: Agendas for a new politics of environment, development and social justice …

Presentation at the STEPS Conference 2010 - Pathways to Sustainability: Agendas for a new politics of environment, development and social justice

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  • 1. Welcome to Stockholm Resilience Centre – Research for Governance of Social-Ecological Systems Critical thresholds and transformations in social-ecological systems Per Olsson Stockholm Resilience Centre
  • 2. Critical transitions or regime shifts
  • 3. Valuable Ecosystem Services Loss of ecosystem services (Desirable) (Undesirable) 1 4 coral dominance state shift algal dominance 2 3 • overfishing, coastal • disease, eutrophication hurricane clear water turbid water • phosphorous accum- • flooding, warming, ulation in soil and mud overexploitation grassland of predators shrub-bushland • fire prevention • good rains, continu- ous heavy grazing
  • 4. Regional-scale collapse - connectivity and spatial resilience
  • 5. Number of reef patches t
  • 6.
  • 7. Thresholds of Potential Concern (TPC)
  • 8. Humanity’s period of grace – the last 10000 years Migrations of Great European First migration of Aborigines Beginning civilisations: fully modern humans arrive in fully modern humans of agriculture from South Asia Greek, Roman out of Africa Australia to Europe Source: GRIP ice core data (Greenland) and S. Oppenheimer, ”Out of Eden”, 2004
  • 9. Understanding transformations in social-ecological systems Window of opportunity Preparing Navigating the Stabilizing transition a) b) Olsson et al 2004, Olsson et al 2006
  • 10. Key factors for SES transformations • Experimentation and innovation • Shadow networks • Opportunity context (i.e. the role of crisis) • Institutional entrepreneurs (the role of individuals) • Paradigms shifts
  • 11. Combining social-ecological, socio-technological, socio-political perspectives Transitions, Resilience and Governance: Linking Technological, Ecological and Political Systems (Special issue in E&S with Andy Sterling and Adrian Smith)
  • 12. Combining Transition, Social Innovation, and Resilience Theories To increase our understanding of transformations in Social-Ecological systems
  • 13. The role of resilience thinking • add the ecological dimension of transformation – addressing only the social dimension will not be sufficient to guide society toward sustainable outcomes. – societies may undergo major transformations without improving their capacity to learn from, respond to, and manage environmental feedback from dynamic ecosystems • for example, a systemic shift to biofuels might slow climate change but lead to destructive land-use change and biodiversity loss – can lead to further ecological degradation, regime shifts and lock-in traps in social-ecological systems that are difficult to get out of
  • 14. Ongoing and future activities • Agency and leadership strategies for innovation and transformation of social-ecological systems (manuscript in review) –Experiments, Innovation and Opportunity Context, Institutional Entrepreneurs • Tipping towards sustainability: emerging pathways of transformation (manuscript in progress) –Framing ongoing change
  • 15. Ongoing and future activities • Innovation and transformation in Social- Ecological Systems (workshop series, PhD Course) – Links to planetary boundaries and missing institutions at global level • Crossing the chasm - crisis, opportunity, and transformation (panel at Resilience 2011, with John Thompson) – Crisis as triggers for large-scale transformations
  • 16. Thank You!
  • 17. Social-ecological innovation • New strategies, concepts, ideas and organizations that enhance the capacity of ecosystems to generate (bundles of) services • have the potential to build resilience in SES, increase human well-being, and reduce vulnerability to present and future challenges • can enhance the fit between ecosystems and governance systems and help can help break self-reinforcing feedbacks, unlock social-ecological systems’ lock-ins, escape traps and move to new trajectories of sustainability Olsson and Galaz in review
  • 18. The Regime Shifts Database • To provide a high quality synthesis of different types of regime shifts documented in social-ecological systems • Focus: Regime shifts that have large impacts on ecosystem services – ie matter to people • Users: – Research projects on regime shifts – Resource for students and practitioners – Resilience assessments in particular areas
  • 19. Outline Part I Understanding and identifying critical transitions Part II Detecting and monitoring thresholds Part III Transformations and purposefully steer away from thresholds and connect to the resource base
  • 20. Combined perspectives and social- ecological system analysis • Initiatives for large-scale transformations - New Green Economy - Green revolution in Africa - Energy and Biofuels • Networks for change - Rework the World - World Ecological Forum - Baltic Sea Action Group • Navigating transformations - planetary stewardship, sustainability and human well-being