|Title||Resilience management in social-ecological systems: a working hypothesis for a participatory approach|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2002|
|Authors||Walker B., Carpenter S., Anderies J., Abel N., Cumming G., Janssen M., Lebel L., Norberg J., Peterson G.D, Pritchard R.|
|Keywords||complex adaptive systems, natural resource management, participatory, resilience, social–ecological systems, uncertainty|
Presents an evolving participatory approach for analysing and managing resilience in social-ecological systems
Natural resource management tends to rely on a presumed ability to predict responses to resource issues, and to assume managers are outside of the system being managed. However, complex adaptive systems defy this type of logic. The scale of uncertainty in these systems is sufficiently large that efforts to reduce them are overwhelmed by the rate that the system itself changes. Resilience is the ability to maintain ongoing functionality within a system, with sufficient capacity for renewal and reorganisation when system structure and functionality is compromised through disturbance. The article proposes an evolving four-step framework for analysing and managing resilience that relies on a participatory process. In this process stakeholders identify issues and develop scenario’s that reveal uncertainties. Simple models and descriptions are used to work through scenario’s, identifying possible areas for resilience. Attempts to analyse resilience through this framework have identified several important research issues. This includes the identification of thresholds, and the possible need for a typology of thresholds to help with this. Another is to understand the evolving ‘rules’ that govern SES dynamics over time to assist with appropriate policy matching.
The dynamic processes of resilience are embedded in adaptive cycles. Following disturbance, systems can maintain a similar configuration if previous components remain relatively intact. However, the introduction of novelty is also possible. In a social-ecological system, this can mean new institutions, ideas, policies and so forth. Adaptive learning is a process that attempts to engage with this novelty, and this article presents a framework by which novelty is drawn out and encouraged in a participatory context. Uncertainty is a significant issue for learning within social-ecological systems, while predictive certainty strongly motivates societal actions at all levels. Moving from certainty to the acceptance of uncertainty in SES management may prove to be a critical challenge for adaptive learning.