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Adaptability and transformability for resilience of social-ecological systems
Center for Research on Natural Resources and the Environment, Stockholm University, Sweden.
2005 (English)Report (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Human actions have made ecosystems more vulnerable to changes that previously could be absorbed. As a consequence they may suddenly shift from desired to less desired states in their capacity to generate ecosystem services and cause severe impacts on wellbeing, livelihoods and societal development. How can groups of people, communities and society as a whole avoid creating social-ecological vulnerability and move towards improved conditions? In the Resilience Alliance we argue that adaptability and transformability are central concepts for a science of sustainability. Here, we review two cases from Sweden on the emergence of adaptive co-management systems with an emphasis on landscape governance. The objective of our analysis is to unravel the social mechanisms behind adaptability and transformation towards ecosystem management. The self-organizing process was triggered by the perceived threats to the areas’ cultural and ecological values among people of various local steward associations and local government. The threats challenged the generation of ecosystem services in the area. We show how leadership and key actor groups play an instrumental role in directing change and transforming governance. The transformation involved three phases: 1) preparing the system for change, 2) using a window of opportunity, and 3) building social-ecological resilience of the new desired state. Trust building dialogue, mobilizing social networks with actors across scales, compiling and generating knowledge and management practices of ecosystem dynamics, sense making, collaborative learning and creating public awareness were part of the process. This significance of flexible organizations serving as bridges between local actors and governmental bodies is critical in the adaptive governance of the landscape. It is also critical in navigating the larger sociopolitical and economic environment for resilience of the new social-ecological system. Social transformability is essential to move from a less desired trajectory into one where the capacity to manage ecosystems sustainably for human wellbeing is strengthened. Adaptability among the actors involved will be needed to reinforce and sustain the desired social-ecological state and make it resilient to future change and unpredictable events.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press , 2005. , 2 p.
Tema V report (online), ISSN 1652-4268 ; 29:5
National Category
Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-62997OAI: diva2:375552
Available from: 2010-12-08 Created: 2010-12-08 Last updated: 2010-12-08Bibliographically approved

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Giving substance to sustainable development
Oceanography, Hydrology, Water Resources

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