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Session 56
“Tips or Traps? Advancing understanding
to steer clear of impoverishment traps
and tipping points”
Keith Tidbal...
• History of the Karklö Group
• Revisit the conceptualization of poverty and rigidity traps (Carpenter and Brock 2008) by
...
• These visualizations have contributed in important ways to our collective understanding
of SES and to better illustratin...
Critical analysis of social-ecological systems,
their stability landscapes and traps
- Richard Stedman – Reification trap
- Jamila Haider – Perverse resilience
- Timon McPhearson – Avoiding urban SES traps b...
Richard C. Stedman
Director, Human Dimensions Research Unit
Department of Natural Resources
Cornell University
rcs6@cornel...
• Proposition 1: “The Subjectivity of Tips”
Key regime shifts in social-ecological systems are “in the eye of
the beholder...
Has this landscape tipped?
State X State Y State X State Y
Is the system actually
in a trap?
According to Whom?
Are we here? Or here?
Stockholm Resilience Centre, jamila.haider@su.se
Perverse resilience: A systematic review of traps in
social-ecological sy...
• Proposition 1: The emphasis on overcoming ONE
single threshold in trap situations leads to
inappropriate interventions i...
Trap defined as being under ONE material productivity threshold: 80% of studies reviewed
Big push of material input: 50% o...
Temporal
GovernanceLevel
Soviet Era à 1992 1992 – 2005 2005 – Present
CentralisedDecentralised
Centralised
Afforestation
A...
“Avoiding social-ecological system traps by accounting
for both ecosystem services and disservices in cities”
Timon McPhea...
Proposition 1: Social-ecological governance of ecosystems can tip
systems toward sustainability
Ecosystems provide importa...
State X State Y State X State Y
Ecosystem disservices
reinforce traps
Time tz Time tz+1
Ecosystems provide critical servic...
From poverty trap to ecosystem service curse:
A review of the payments for ecosystem services literature
Jakub Kronenberg
...
• Proposition 1:
When institutions are not able to prevent rent seeking,
the exploitation of unequal bargaining power and
...
ES buyers ES providers
ecosystem service
payment
Powerful
stakeholders rent
seeking
VOLATILITY
Unequal bargaining power
State X State Y State X State Y
Payment of ecosystem
services creates
unintended side effects
and reinforces traps
Time tz...
Keith G. Tidball
Cornell University
KGTidball@Cornell.edu
A gilded trap of our own making: anthropocentric
discursive trap...
• Proposition 1:
Discursive traps exist, and they are a unique type of either
rigidity or poverty traps
• Proposition 2:
A...
Discourse Reflects Ecological Identity
Anthropocentric discursive traps
Humans are exempt from the “laws of
nature”
Humans are exceptional, not like any
other cr...
Intervention that temporarily alters the landscape allows for slower
variables to take action e.g. altering ecological ide...
How does discourse
contribute?
How does discourse
contribute?
Niki Frantzeskaki
Dutch Research Institute For Transitions
Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Wil Thissen
Polic...
• Proposition 1:
Transformative innovations are neglected from
institutions due to mismatch between scale of problem
and s...
Mham & Frantzeskaki –
In Review
Tamala’s Urban Water
Transition (Ghana)
WASH sector network
State Y
State X State Y
Innovations transform
the landscape and have the potential to steer away from traps
Time tz
Time t...
So what?
Resilience 2014 Session 56 tips or traps
Resilience 2014 Session 56 tips or traps
Resilience 2014 Session 56 tips or traps
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Resilience 2014 Session 56 tips or traps

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In this paper we revisit the conceptualization of poverty and rigidity traps (Carpenter and Brock 2008) by considering how representations of stability landscapes can affect spatial and temporal micro- and macro-dynamics which shape the very landscapes that contain these traps. Transformations are radical changes of micro- and/or macro-dynamics that reshape the possibilities to escape these traps by reshaping the basins of attraction and the landscape as a whole. Conceptualizing and then representing via heuristic models broader scale dynamics in the form of dynamic landscapes and smaller scale dynamics in the form of stability landscapes and basins of attraction raises new questions and new understanding of how the lenses with which we approach time and space dynamics impact the way SES develop and/or can be managed over time. In this thinking, institutions and how they operate in relation to micro- and macro-dynamics resemble some archetypical behavioral patterns conceptualized as institutional traps.

According to Victor Polterovich (2008), institutional traps are basically inefficient yet stable norms of behavior. Institutional traps are supported by mechanisms of coordination, learning, linkage and cultural inertia. The acceleration of economic growth, systemic crisis, the evolution of some cultural characteristics and the development of civil society may result in breaking out of institutional traps (Ibid). Hence, within the field of social-ecological systems resilience and transition studies, motivated by the possibility of breaking out of traps, understanding these traps from the stand-point of systems modeling, especially through visualizations such as the now almost ubiquitous ball and cup diagrams and stability landscapes, has become de rigueur.

Unquestionably, these visualizations have contributed in important ways to our collective understanding of social-ecological systems, and to better illustrating not only traps, but also possibilities for escaping or avoiding them. We do not intend here to diminish the value of these important initial contributions (add cites here), rather, our hope is to creatively and somewhat critically approach them for the purposes of expanding their explanatory utility, to acknowledge both limits to as well new frontiers in that explanatory utility. In so doing, we must state clearly that we understand the nuances between metaphors and models, and the complexity of their use in scientific discourse (for an excellent review of this subject, see Kretzenbacher 2003), and that in the process of proposing novel perspectives on traps in social-ecological systems, we may fall into traps of our own making. We take this risk happily, confident that the contribution outweighs the consternation, especially if such risks lead to a wider discussion of traps and how we conceive of their existence, their emergence, and their ability to be mitigated, avoided, or deconstructed entirely.

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Resilience 2014 Session 56 tips or traps

  1. 1. Session 56 “Tips or Traps? Advancing understanding to steer clear of impoverishment traps and tipping points” Keith Tidball Dept. of Natural Resources Cornell University USA Niki Frantzeskaki DRIFT, Erasmus University Rotterdam The Netherlands Wednesday 05-05-2014 10:20-11:20 Programme page 26 Thomas Elmqvist Stockholm Resilience Center Stockholm University, Sweden
  2. 2. • History of the Karklö Group • Revisit the conceptualization of poverty and rigidity traps (Carpenter and Brock 2008) by considering how representations of stability landscapes can affect spatial and temporal micro- and macro-dynamics which shape the very landscapes that contain these traps. • Institutional traps are basically inefficient yet stable norms of behavior… supported by mechanisms of coordination, learning, linkage and cultural inertia (Polterovich 2008). • In SES resilience and transition studies, motivated by the possibility of breaking out of traps, understanding these traps from the stand-point of systems modeling, especially through visualizations such as the now almost ubiquitous ball and cup diagrams and stability landscapes, has become common. Liao, K. 2012Scheffer et al. 1993, Walker et al. 2004 Scheffer et al. 2001
  3. 3. • These visualizations have contributed in important ways to our collective understanding of SES and to better illustrating not only traps, but also possibilities for escaping or avoiding them. • We do not intend here to diminish the value of these important initial contributions -- our hope is to creatively and somewhat critically approach them for the purposes of expanding their explanatory utility, to acknowledge both limits to as well new frontiers in that explanatory utility. • We take a constructive critical approach via novel conceptual and empirical observations on traps, motivated by the existence of contested interpretations of traps and the landscapes within which they are described. • Can we surface new types of traps? Are all traps describing ‘shades’ of the two archetypical traps already well known in the literature? (rigidity and poverty) • With this in mind, in this session we approach traps in new and novel ways, from diverse perspectives while remaining critical to the concept itself: examining the subjectivity of traps, issues of scale and related unintended consequences.
  4. 4. Critical analysis of social-ecological systems, their stability landscapes and traps
  5. 5. - Richard Stedman – Reification trap - Jamila Haider – Perverse resilience - Timon McPhearson – Avoiding urban SES traps by ecosystem services and disservices - Jakub Kronenberg – From poverty trap to ecosystem service curse - Keith Tidball – Anthropocentric discursive traps - Niki Frantzeskaki – Scale traps of transformative innovations Subjectivity Lens Spatial Scale Lens Subjectivity Lens Spatial & Time Scale Lenses
  6. 6. Richard C. Stedman Director, Human Dimensions Research Unit Department of Natural Resources Cornell University rcs6@cornell.edu The Reification Trap, or “Following the Data Around”: Resilience and the Sustainability Hangover?
  7. 7. • Proposition 1: “The Subjectivity of Tips” Key regime shifts in social-ecological systems are “in the eye of the beholder”; (subjectively) experienced, perceived, interpreted and acted on. This makes language such as “desirable states” potentially problematic. • Proposition 2: “The Data Trap” Systematic analyses of subjectivity at multiple levels, multiple forms, have not been well-integrated into social-ecological systems’ work, especially around regime shifts. There is a need to understand variation in this subjectivity and its sources; quantitative research is especially good for this.
  8. 8. Has this landscape tipped?
  9. 9. State X State Y State X State Y Is the system actually in a trap? According to Whom? Are we here? Or here?
  10. 10. Stockholm Resilience Centre, jamila.haider@su.se Perverse resilience: A systematic review of traps in social-ecological systems Jamila Haider
  11. 11. • Proposition 1: The emphasis on overcoming ONE single threshold in trap situations leads to inappropriate interventions in social ecological systems. • Proposition 2: Different types of traps exist and can reinforce each other across spatial, organisational and temporal scales.
  12. 12. Trap defined as being under ONE material productivity threshold: 80% of studies reviewed Big push of material input: 50% of studies reviewed
  13. 13. Temporal GovernanceLevel Soviet Era à 1992 1992 – 2005 2005 – Present CentralisedDecentralised Centralised Afforestation Anarchy/elite capture Deforestation Decentralisation Reforestation No case studies reviewed identify cross scale interacting traps
  14. 14. “Avoiding social-ecological system traps by accounting for both ecosystem services and disservices in cities” Timon McPhearson Assistant Professor of Urban Ecology Tishman Environment and Design Center, The New School, New York email: mcphearp@newschool.edu twitter: @timonmcphearson
  15. 15. Proposition 1: Social-ecological governance of ecosystems can tip systems toward sustainability Ecosystems provide important benefits to urban residents and can increase adaptive capacity of social-ecological systems at multiple scales. However, because ecosystem services are generated by social- ecological systems, they require social-ecological governance and planning in order to increase adaptive capacity and to tip urban system transitions towards sustainability. Proposition 2: Ecosystem disservices can lead to social-ecological system traps Ecosystems do not only provide services, they also provide disservices. Ecosystem disservices have been poorly studied and largely overlooked. Policy, planning and management for ecosystem services may inadvertently lock in the accumulation of disservices, leading to social-ecological traps that decrease the adaptive capacity of the system.
  16. 16. State X State Y State X State Y Ecosystem disservices reinforce traps Time tz Time tz+1 Ecosystems provide critical services that can tip social-ecological systems towards sustainability, but may also generate disservices that create system lock-in and trap the system in an undesirable state
  17. 17. From poverty trap to ecosystem service curse: A review of the payments for ecosystem services literature Jakub Kronenberg University of Lodz, Poland kronenbe@uni.lodz.pl Klaus Hubacek University of Maryland, USA hubacek@umd.edu
  18. 18. • Proposition 1: When institutions are not able to prevent rent seeking, the exploitation of unequal bargaining power and payment volatility, traps translate into a regime shift. • Proposition 2: Socio-economic conditions change once payment for ecosystem services is introduced. In some circumstances, they damage strangely enough to create a new socio- economic setting within which the poor get even poorer (this is in contrast with the frequently assumed side objective of payment for ES: poverty alleviation)
  19. 19. ES buyers ES providers ecosystem service payment Powerful stakeholders rent seeking VOLATILITY Unequal bargaining power
  20. 20. State X State Y State X State Y Payment of ecosystem services creates unintended side effects and reinforces traps Time tz Time tz+1
  21. 21. Keith G. Tidball Cornell University KGTidball@Cornell.edu A gilded trap of our own making: anthropocentric discursive traps as barriers to transformation
  22. 22. • Proposition 1: Discursive traps exist, and they are a unique type of either rigidity or poverty traps • Proposition 2: Anthropocentric discursive traps act as barriers to transformation and must therefore be understood in order to be able to mitigate, dismantle, adapt to or ameliorate. What we say and think about our selves within Social-Ecological Systems matters …
  23. 23. Discourse Reflects Ecological Identity
  24. 24. Anthropocentric discursive traps Humans are exempt from the “laws of nature” Humans are exceptional, not like any other creature on Earth Humans should “Save” nature Humans are a blight upon nature
  25. 25. Intervention that temporarily alters the landscape allows for slower variables to take action e.g. altering ecological identity State X Time tz+2 Time tz+1 Temporary system state Time tz
  26. 26. How does discourse contribute? How does discourse contribute?
  27. 27. Niki Frantzeskaki Dutch Research Institute For Transitions Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands Wil Thissen Policy Analysis Section Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands The transitions perspective on the institutional mechanisms behind traps in social-ecological systems
  28. 28. • Proposition 1: Transformative innovations are neglected from institutions due to mismatch between scale of problem and scale of solution. • Proposition 2: Transformations of the landscape and of the basins of attraction can alleviate some traps and at the same time create new ones.
  29. 29. Mham & Frantzeskaki – In Review Tamala’s Urban Water Transition (Ghana)
  30. 30. WASH sector network
  31. 31. State Y State X State Y Innovations transform the landscape and have the potential to steer away from traps Time tz Time tz+1 State X State X State Y
  32. 32. So what?

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