Social-ecological Resilience for Local to Global Governance

Fikret Berkes University of Manitoba, Canada

Resilience is about innovative adaptations to changing conditions and is therefore important in a rapidly changing world. Resilience is the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure, identity and feedbacks. Social systems and ecological systems are coupled, interdependent and co-evolutionary. Therefore, we focus on the integrated social-ecological system (SES) as the unit of analysis. SES resilience may be considered to include coping capacity, adaptive capacity, and transformative capacity in the face of change.

Communities are nested in multi-level governance. Community institutions, such as fishing co- ops, need to work with regional and national-level institutions through linkages and networks. Adaptive management incorporates feedback learning, and requires collaborative approaches. Partnerships and collaborative/cooperative approaches, such as co-management and knowledge co-production, facilitate social learning that is important for adaptive responses.

Researchers can help build resilience by increasing the coping range and adaptive capacity of the SES. Methods of applied research that can help build resilience include community-based development and planning. Communities can increase their own understanding of change through research, reflection and applied learning, for example, through capacity development, participatory research, and participatory scenario planning.

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