Social-Ecological Systems

Food systems are social-ecological systems in which networks of actors carry out diverse food system activities (production, processing, retailers, consumers, storage, disposal), driven by a wide set of driving forces and jointly producing different food system outcomes (e.g. food security, environmental, social and economic outcomes).

Food systems are social-ecological systems in which networks of actors carry out diverse food system activities (production, processing, retailers, consumers, storage, disposal), driven by a wide set of driving forces and jointly producing different food system outcomes (e.g. food security, environmental, social and economic outcomes).

From: Global Food Security, 2021

A Dynamical Approach to Ecosystem Identity

John Collier, Graeme Cumming, in Philosophy of Ecology, 2011

5 Conclusions

The issue of ecosystem individuation is of both theoretical and practical importance. Ecosystems are dynamical systems, so a dynamical account of ecosystem is more appropriate than a static definition. Dynamical definitions are also more useful if we want to study ecosystem change and the possible limits of that change. A dynamical account is especially useful for ecosystem management and intervention, since, aside from the issue of matching management scale with ecosystem scale, these are dynamical interactions themselves, and their dynamics must be incorporated into the existing ecosystem dynamics. Because ecosystems are typically complexly organized, and thus not subject to one grand model, it is useful to develop a number of working models that can be applied in specific cases as appropriate. In many cases more than one model or meta-model will apply, and different models can be used to constrain each other, especially in cases where ecosystems skirt the borders of specific meta-models.

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URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B978044451673250008X

Community Disaster Resilience

T. Fitzpatrick, in Disasters and Public Health (Second Edition), 2016

Conclusion

Resilience in social–ecological systems requires diversity, modularity, and tightness of feedback (Walker and Salt, 2006). It includes a broad set of indicators including: diversity of skills and ideas, connectedness, two-way exchanges of information, openness/transparency, accountability, and access to diverse resources (human and material). It requires organizational checks and balances which are critical for ensuring important issues are not left unaddressed. For resilience to occur there must also be a:

…responsibility and authority that match the scale and location of challenges and opportunities and lead to capacity for early detection and quick responses. Unfortunately, many traditional approaches to policy development and implementation either do not encourage these factors or actively erode them.

Cork (2010).

In today’s globalized world, ensuring health security requires recognition of the interconnected nature of global systems. In acknowledging this, we must tackle disaster risk reduction on a global scale through collaborative international action, for a disaster anywhere can have direct negative outcome for many other communities around the globe. This fact highlights the importance of investing in the building of resilient societies and in improving international collaborative efforts for disaster risk reduction and response.

Resilient communities have several key similarities. They are composed of healthy people with access to healthcare. Those individuals, families, and communities have an understanding of critical steps to take during an emergency or disaster. They also have the resources to accomplish those steps. In addition, they care for others routinely and during emergencies. (Morton and Lurie, 2013). Ideally, “communities that possess resilience characteristics can also arrive on the other side of a crisis in a stronger position than pre-event” (Arbo et al., 2012). Building resilience is neither a quick fix nor a process that can be achieved through top-down pressure alone. It requires a holistic approach to understanding and supporting community as well as an “all hazards, all agencies, all people” approach to disaster risk reduction.

There is a limit to what resilient communities can achieve on their own—ultimately a big enough disaster or a combination of disruptions within a short space of time will devastate a community’s capacity to respond and recover from such adversity. Therefore, resilience building should not be seen as an opportunity to outsource or shift the responsibility of government and agencies onto communities, or to reduce the level of support (financial, material, and in kind) that communities receive. There is widespread evidence that investing in disaster mitigation and preparedness efforts not only saves lives but also significantly decreases the costs of subsequent response and recovery efforts (Kelman and Shreve, 2013). This is an outcome of the significant disaster risk reduction and increased levels of individual and organizational preparedness achieved through successful community disaster resilience building efforts. With this in mind, it is critical for government and emergency management agencies to support, collaborate with, and resource grassroots community engagement in resilience-building activities.

Finally, it is important to recognize that disasters create unique opportunities for positive growth and act as one of the most powerful catalysts for sudden increases in community cohesion, collaboration, and connection based around shared human values and a shared vision for the future. If disasters are seen as opportunities to mobilize people and make the necessary changes, then communities can increase their resilience and become more sustainable into the future.

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URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128019801000039

Vulnerability of Ecosystems to Climate

F.S. ChapinIII, in Climate Vulnerability, 2013

4.01.2.2 Resilience

Resilience is the capacity of a social–ecological system to absorb a spectrum of shocks or perturbations, and to sustain and develop its fundamental function, structure, identity, and feedbacks through either recovery or reorganization in a new context (Holling 1973; Gunderson and Holling 2002; Walker et al. 2004; Folke 2006). In a sense, it is the flexibility of the system to adjust to shocks and surprises. Resilience depends on (1) the capacity of individual species or components of the system to adapt; (2) biophysical and social legacies that contribute to diversity and provide proven pathways for rebuilding; (3) the capacity of people to plan for the long term within the context of uncertainty and change; (4) a balance between stabilizing feedbacks that buffer the system against stresses, disturbance, and innovation that creates opportunities for change; and (5) the capacity to adjust governance structures to meet changing needs (Holling and Gunderson 2002; Folke et al. 2003; Walker et al. 2006). Loss of resilience pushes a system closer to its limits. When resilience has been eroded, a disturbance like a disease, storm, or market fluctuation, that previously shook and revitalized the resilient system, might now push the fragile system over a threshold into an alternative state with a new trajectory of change. Such system changes radically alter the flow of ecosystem services, associated livelihoods, and well-being of people and societies.

Sources of diversity, which is essential for adaptation, are critical to resilience. Fostering small-scale variability and change logically contributes to resilience, because it maintains within the system those components that are well adapted to each phase of the cycles of ecosystem disturbance and recovery. This reduces the likelihood that the inevitable disturbances will have catastrophic effects. Conversely, preventing small-scale disturbances such as insect outbreaks or fires tends to eliminate disturbance-adapted components, thereby reducing the capacity of the system to cope with disturbance.

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Preparing students for interdisciplinary work: green infrastructure curricula Toronto Metropolitan University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Sheila Boudreau, … Gary Pritchard, in Smart Cities Policies and Financing, 2022

10.3.1 Social science theory for interdisciplinary practice

The social science theory presented below is helpful to consider in interdisciplinary practice. While a high level description of each theory is provided for each, the original sources should be consulted to gain a more in-depth understanding. The reader is encouraged to reflect on how each theory relates to the case studies provided in the subsequent section on supportive models or other examples presented and discussed in class.

Within “social norm theory,” individuals relate to each other in society according to unwritten rules called “norms” [13]. Norms are culturally dependent, and normative expectations are often particular to specific workplace or disciplinary cultures. For people working across cultures, it is critical to learn about these norms in order to improve communication and understanding and avoid creating conflict, harm, or tension. Social norms can be “descriptive,” referring to how individual behavior is perceived, or “prescriptive,” which refers to others’ expectation of how an individual should appropriately behave. These norms influence individual behaviors by reinforcing the benefits or consequences associated with particular actions that generate a pressure to conform. Indigenous Peoples refer to these norms in terms of “protocols” that are varied and community-specific. In this context, introductory meetings are dedicated to sharing personal experience, learning about others and their intentions, and also as an opportunity to explain community protocols so that they can be clearly understood and respected.

Extensive research from around the world shows that there are at least six moral foundations that are shared by all human cultures [14]. They include socially ingrained attitudes about care versus harm, fairness versus cheating, loyalty versus betrayal, authority versus subversion, sanctity versus degradation, and liberty versus oppression. In working with people from different cultural backgrounds, having an appreciation of shared moral foundations is necessary to find common ground, improve empathy, and drive collaboration.

Working with others requires sensitive consideration of how people view themselves, including their roles and social identities, and how they perceive others to view them. There is a greater need to appreciate “identity theory” and to avoid threats to identity, especially in situations where building trust is fundamental. To better understand identity, practitioners should take the time to research and learn about the values of others, which can also involve storytelling. Tools of “framing” are another set of techniques that are critical to interpersonal communication. “Interpretive frames” relate to personal beliefs that direct how we interpret our role in situations and how we should respond. Working with others requires independent research and deep listening in order to break free from the mental constraints we inadvertently employ when framing what we observe. “Communication frames” refers to the way we present shared information in terms of risks (e.g., avoiding losses), goals, and moral values.

Trust theory informs how interactions can be structured to promote trust, specifically through the “trust ecology” of a specific group context. Trust grows when individuals are well-liked or where protocols for interaction are coproduced and thus result in reduced risk. Conversely, prior experiences of broken trust make it difficult to create trust in the future. When working across cultures, it is important to consider how trust is influenced by values of independence, with a focus on individual needs and wants, as they relate to the common, collective good.

Developed by the Harvard Negotiation Project, “principled negotiation” is based on four principles: separating people from the problem; focusing on interests instead of positions; generating options for mutual gain (the “win-wins”); and developing shared criteria to evaluate outcomes [15]. This theory is useful in situations where differing beliefs or views are involved, and all participants are expected to agree and adhere to basic project principles.

“Team effectiveness theory” identifies the drivers that are responsible for team success. These are classified into four categories: inputs, such as traits, size, resources; processes, such as goal setting, structures, roles; emergent states, such cohesion and trust; and outcomes, including intangible qualities such as innovation and efficiency. In the development of team effectiveness theory, the inputs and processes most likely to produce positive outcomes were the traits of individual team members, including emotional intelligence, functional competence, willingness to work collaboratively, reliability, and flexibility. Additionally, a clear delineation of roles and a sense of agency and empowerment are also vital to success. All team processes require key elements such as leadership, working across divides, coordination, communication, monitoring, and evaluation. Team performance is tied directly to positive team culture, and if greater time is invested at the beginning of a project to identify norms for communication as well as common goals, positive outcomes are more likely. Effective leadership styles are typically empowering in nature, in which leaders promote a shared vision and give team members the autonomy to work toward it. Effective leaders support and respect the ideas of all team members and foster genuine concern for their well-being.

All teams both create and apply knowledge in the work they do. “Nonaka’s Theory of Organizational Knowledge Creation” [16] refers to two forms of knowledge: “tacit” knowledge, including the implicit mental models and skills developed through experience; and “explicit” knowledge, the facts and figures that are explicitly and consciously remembered by the rational parts of our brain. Nonaka’s theory claims that tacit knowledge related to experiences should be actively shared with others, through means such as reflection, observation, and conceptualization. To promote organizational learning, team members should have the opportunity to try their own approaches and should be given the means to experience meaningful tasks. Additionally, teams should create a culture of care and trust and incorporate adequate time to reflect on project outcomes.

Systems theories are particularly important in working with social-ecological systems, such as those found in green infrastructure. For example, in situations where unrelated efforts are made to address the same complex problem, “Collective Impact” theory offers support for the development of a shared vision and goals. Several key factors underlie the success of this work: long-term commitments, a common agenda, shared metrics, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication, and “backbone support organizations” to coordinate all actions. This theory offers a framework to guide collective impact initiatives:

Initiating action
Problem identification
Team building
Community involvement
Organizing for impact:
Build collective infrastructure
Establish ground rules for participation
Solidify a common agenda
Develop an adaptive management plan
Community involvement
Implementation, adaptation and impact:
Implementation
Continuous communication
Adaptive management
Sustaining commitment and support
Community involvement

Developing a clear framework that considers the needs of rights holders, stakeholders, and community members is vital for interdisciplinary work. This is the case for all public realm infrastructure, including green infrastructure, regardless of its scale, location, ownership arrangements, or technical innovation.

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URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128191309000401

Culture and historic value as ways of understanding complex human health-ocean linkages

Julia Wester, … Amelia Moore, in Oceans and Human Health (Second Edition), 2023

3.7 Emergent properties of cultures and social-ecological systems

Another important lens for understanding the connections between nature, culture, and health is research into social-ecological systems (see Chapters 2 and 17217). The social-ecological systems framework was developed as a way of examining and understanding human-nature connections and interdependence. Social-ecological systems approaches recognize that human societies and nature are neither separate nor simple. Instead, this framework is meant to emphasize the degree to which the distinction between nature and society is arbitrary and socially constructed and that connections between nature and society are often complex and adaptive, with multiple interconnected feedback loops (Folke et al., 2005). Thus, it is a helpful perspective for understanding the dynamic linkages described above, particularly in the face of change.

Social-ecological systems have “emergent properties”: characteristics and capacities that emerge as a result of each component part in a system interacting with and impacting other components. Culture is an example of a phenomenon that emerges from a system, and which can only fully exist and be understood within the context of that system. The properties and competencies of any given culture will also vary in important and, at times, measurable ways that have implications for individual and collective well-being, and resilience in the face of threats, challenges, and risks to health (Hechanova and Waelde, 2017; Binder et al., 2015).

The “social capital” of a particular culture/social-ecological system is one such property. Social capital refers to the collective sense of shared norms and trust within and between communities. Social capital is a critical resource that is tapped in times of change or challenge to form adaptive and collective solutions. Social capital can exist within a community or a social group.

Known as “bonding” social capital, this describes the degree to which people in a particular group feel they trust each other, have common values and goals, and are willing and able to have conversations to face common problems. Social capital can also extend horizontally between different groups or communities (known as “bridging” social capital); and vertically between communities and the institutions or individuals with decision-making or political power (known as “linking” social capital) (Claridge, 2018). https://www.jameschristensen.com/

To intuitively understand the importance of social capital for addressing problems, one can imagine having to solve a complex puzzle or complete a project with either a group of your closest friends, or a group of complete strangers. The norms of interaction, trust, and reciprocity that exist in the first scenario would make approaching the project much easier. Importantly, these same social norms and trust would need to be developed in the second scenario for your group to be able to adapt to different challenges and succeed. Although note, that strong social bonds can be a “double-edged” sword for health outcomes: for instance, when social norms enable risky behavior (e.g., around smoking or drinking) (Villalonga-Olives and Kawachi, 2017).

Social-ecological systems can also differ in their relative capacity to deal with change. The capacity of a system will be related to and include existing forms of social capital. Beyond this, capacity also includes the knowledge systems in place (e.g., not only what our community knows, but our systems for transferring and communicating knowledge and know-how to others, as well as for developing and validating new knowledge) (Folke et al., 2005). Capacity also includes the quality of leadership within a community and the systems for addressing trade-offs in the face of disagreement or new challenges (Foster-Fishman et al., 2007).

We can see that the culture of a community would have profound impacts on its relative social capital and capacity. Culture can help codify and provide meaning and continuity to the norms that shape how much social capital or capacity exists in a community. As social capital is a resource that can fuel potentially both positive and negative outcomes, culture is also important in directing to what ends this reserve of trust, reciprocity, and communal effort is applied. It is through this lens then that we will explore how culture intersects with conservation management and adaptive governance in coastal communities to support health and well-being.

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URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780323952279000129

Vulnerability of Ecosystems to Climate

R.J. Scholes, K. Smart, in Climate Vulnerability, 2013

4.09.5.3 Reducing Vulnerability to Social Change

It is increasingly indefensible to regard ecosystem change as divorced from social change. In reality they are intimately linked as social–ecological systems (Folke 2006; Chapin, this volume). Very frequently the change dynamics are initiated within the human part of the system, or the feedback processes operate via the human system. Land use change, leading to land cover change, is a major vulnerability of soil and biomass carbon (Marland et al. 2003). It is principally controlled by demographic, political, and economic factors (Lambin et al. 2001), but there may in the century timescale be climate feedbacks, as areas formerly suitable for certain uses become unsuitable, and new areas become suitable. The key vulnerability reduction actions are related to policy: what land uses may be practiced, who has rights to practice them and with what security of tenure; who pays for externalities such as those due to human climate forcing; and what prices (including subsidies) are paid for the various land-based commodities. The general recommendations for increasing the resilience of social-economic systems involve creating a sense of local ownership, stewardship and reward, effective multiscale participatory governance, and enhancing adaptive capacity through leaning and innovation (Berkes et al. 2003).

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URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780123847034004111

Island Development

E. Clark, in International Encyclopedia of Human Geography, 2009

Uneven Island Development and Island Gentrification

Islands may be geophysical givens of material reality, but how they develop is determined more by their positions, positioning and relations in an evolving social-ecological system than by their physical limits or characteristics, however much the preexisting territorial structure of smaller landmass surrounded by water constitutes a precondition for – and is discursively utilized in – the production of regionality. If, as Torsten Hägerstrand suggested, geography is constituted through struggles for power over the entry of entities and events into space and time, then understanding development on small islands must involve scrutinizing such struggles relevant to that development. Why remittances and aid here, and offshore finance there? Seeking explanations limited to endogenous characteristics of inertia or creativity, resource endowment or policy choices, fails to position struggles over island time–space and resources into broader contexts of historical global capitalist relations.

The above models are commonly presented as descriptions of reality, and also carry a significant element of normative policy recommendation, more or less explicitly with an eye toward economic growth. Here is a good example of how to encourage economic growth, there is an example of poor achievement in economic growth. From the perspective of uneven development, however, these models emerge as coherently connected rather than mutually exclusive ‘paths’ which island societies can ‘choose’ to follow, if only they make the optimal policy decisions. Island societies need to be seen as connected to geographically broader processes of capital accumulation. They are not only vulnerable to forms of exploitation and devaluation inflicted by capital accumulation elsewhere, but also actively engage in processes of capital accumulation. The PROFIT model focuses on island societies that have been particularly successful in engaging in accumulation by dispossession (both at home and abroad), while the MIRAB model applies to islands that have been more the peripheral object of than the designers of capital accumulation. The one is the upside, the other the downside of the same connected processes of uneven development.

The Cayman Islands, now known largely as a center for offshore finance, are an applauded example of success in making the transition from one of the poorest to one of the richest Caribbean island societies in a very short period. This is the PROFIT model par excellence. The perspective of uneven development underscores how the offshore finance of the Cayman Islands not only dispossesses considerable swaths of the population in the unfolding of this success story, but is also directly related to the redlining of and exploitative extraction from other less successful island societies, some perhaps locked into MIRAB conditions, others following (or subjected to) a SITE development path. Characteristics emphasized in analyses of PROFIT islands, namely, flexibility and adaptability to strategic opportunities in the global arena, are the very same characteristics of capitalist, historical geography emphasized by theorists of uneven development. It seems island societies can also play the game, and play it well.

Consequently, gentrification of island communities has become a common conflict-ridden process associated with development on many islands. The challenge for these communities is to take control over the development process and strengthen local economies while avoiding displacement in the process.

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URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B978008044910400849X

Environmental Education and Education for Sustainable Development

Therese Hume, John Barry, in International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (Second Edition), 2015

Approaches to EE/ESD: Moving Toward a Paradigm Shift

In 1993, three basic paradigms were identified by Robottom and Hart, roughly corresponding to the dominant research paradigms of the time: positivist, interpretivist, and critical. To these, Fien (2002) has added poststructuralism and more recently, Gough (2013b: 19) has noted the increasing influence of poststructuralism and multivoice, multicentred studies foregrounding indigenous knowledge, postcolonial and feminist perspectives, in addition to work on socioecological resilience. These basic paradigms or worldviews reflect particular approaches to education.

Vare and Scott (2007: 191) identify instrumental ESD, or ESD 1, as “the promotion of informed, skilled behaviours and ways of thinking,” reflecting a more behavioristic, outcome-focused approach. The intrinsic ESD approach or ESD 2 is concerned with individual learning and involves “building capacity to think critically about what experts say and to test ideas, exploring the dilemmas and contradictions inherent in sustainable living” (Vare and Scott, 2007: 191). This is based on a more constructivist educational philosophy and as such focuses more on the processes of learning (e.g., Wals, 2006). A third, more critical, approach to EE is concerned with social learning. Scott and Gough (2010: 3743) argue that “ESD can helpfully be seen as an education in citizenship: a responsive social learning process which is a preparation for informed, open-minded, social engagement with the main existential issues of the day that can be experienced in the family, the community and workplace, indeed, in all aspects of lifelong learning.” More radical approaches derive from explicitly political and critical pedagogies (e.g., Freire, 1972), which place an emphasis on education for social and political transformation (see also Huckle, 2008). However, Freire’s critical pedagogy, as well as other liberal education approaches such as Dewey’s, has been criticized by Bowers (2005) who argues that the one key mistake these approaches have made is to assume that there is one ‘true’ approach to learning. To counter this, Bowers advocates examining “ecologically problematic cultural assumptions” (Bowers, 2005: 13) to dominant knowledge (including ‘commonsense’ taken for granted ideas of ‘economic growth’ as an agreed societal imperative), and a reappraisal of local knowledge systems and traditions reflects cultural and bioregional diversity.

The acknowledgment that content studied processes of learning, and diverse regional and political contexts of learning are all important, have led to more integrative models of ESD, utilizing social–ecological systems approaches. This shift can be seen in the work of educators such as Stephen Sterling (2003), who, echoing O’Sullivan (1999) note that (notwithstanding some essential differences) critical, transformative pedagogy and ESD can be complementary. For example, Sterling’s (2003) model of ‘sustainable education’ essentially integrates and transcends a range of existing approaches and adopts a whole systems thinking approach, which he equates with a “postmodern ecological worldview” (Sterling, 2003: 39). Gregory Bateson’s (1972) ‘levels of learning’ are used as a frame to enable the examination of learning in different contexts, and in different ways, all of which may have their uses. Learning 1 or learning within paradigm (a particular set of choices for action available within a particular worldview) can be seen as roughly corresponding to more instrumental forms of ESD or to “single-loop learning” (Argyris and Schön, 1996). Learning 2, more closely associated with critical thinking, and Argyris and Schon’s “double-loop learning” involves awareness of alternative paradigms or worldviews that frame sets of choices. The third level of learning identified by Bateson, is essentially transformative, involving a more enlightened self-awareness of what frames choice in the individual. Thus, Sterling conceptualizes ‘sustainable education’ as:

a change of educational culture which both develops and embodies the theory and practice of sustainability in a way which is critically aware. This would be a transformative paradigm which values, sustains and realizes human potential in relation to the need to attain and sustain social, economic and ecological well-being, recognizing that they are interdependent.

Sterling, 2003: 233

This broader view incorporates individual, organizational, and social transformation and can also provide a pragmatic basis for change in existing formal education systems. For example, to engender change in higher education institutes, Jones et al. (2010), in common with many ESD practitioners advocate the use of a holistic definition of sustainability that brings into play dimensions of culture, economy, health, peace, and conflict, human rights, gender equality, science and technology, and social, global and intergenerational justice. This broader view also links to other more psychological approaches to how ESD can motivate behavioral change, i.e., move from critical thinking to action, such as the reasoned action approach (Fishbein and Ajzen, 2010). Multifaceted approaches inspire exploration of alternative problem definitions and solutions, and foster deliberation and debate, which require contribution from a wide range of disciplines.

Models such as Sterling’s, by integrating and effectively transcending a number of approaches, thus fulfill the requirement articulated by the Ahmedabad conference (2007: 4) for “fundamental change in the purpose and practice of education.” The American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, following Cortese (2003), describe what such change might look like in higher education:

The context of learning would change to make human/environment interdependence, values and ethics a seamless and central part of teaching of all the disciplines, campus operations should be sustainable, and partnership should occur between local, regional and global communities.
The content of learning would further reflect interdisciplinary systems thinking, dynamics and analysis for all majors and disciplines and bring lateral rigor across the disciplines as well as the vertical rigor currently within them.
The process of education would complement formal curriculum with active, experiential, inquiry-based learning and real-world problem solving both campus-based and within the larger community.

ACUPCC, 2009: 6

Emerging areas in higher education, which reflect such a paradigm shift include the emerging field of sustainability science that: “seeks to understand the fundamental character of interactions between nature and society” (Kates et al., 2001: 641).

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URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B978008097086891081X

Resilience

M. Jean Blair, Warren E. Mabee, in International Encyclopedia of Human Geography (Second Edition), 2020

Social-Ecological Resilience

Research into ecological resilience began in the early 1970s with seminal work such as Holling’s exploration of the ability of individual ecosystems to absorb change and reorganize while essentially maintaining the same structure, identity, and functions. Ecological resilience explicitly recognizes that an individual ecosystem can cycle through multiple stable states, controlled by different processes, each with a unique set of associated ecosystem services. Shifts between these states can be triggered by sudden disturbances or by graduate changes in climate. Resilience here measures the ability of a system to absorb disturbances, before shifting into a different state.

The concept of social-ecological resilience evolved from ecological resilience to incorporate interactions between society and the broader environment; this concept has informed modern resilience theory. Resilience theory recognizes that social-ecological systems are essentially interacting sets of complex adaptive systems across multiple scales, and that feedback from one scale to another can create nonlinear responses across these systems. In response to disturbance, social-ecological systems can learn and self-organize. Importantly, resilience theory suggests that there is no clear distinction between social and natural systems—the two are intrinsically intertwined across many scales from individual to local to global. Changes in a social-ecological system at one scale can have profound, often unexpected, impacts on systems at other scales. As social-ecological systems come under increasing pressure, resilience within these systems drops, meaning that even small disturbances could cause collapse and reorganization, which could have profound impacts across the system at hand as well as other, interrelated systems at a variety of scales.

The recognition of cross-scale interactions, nonlinearity and unpredictability in social-ecological systems has led to important changes in the way that ecosystems and resources are governed. There is an increasing focus on assessing, enhancing, and managing for resilience in social-ecological systems. In this context, resilience is expanded to include the ability of social-ecological systems to adapt in the face of change, particularly unexpected change, in ways that would continue to support human well-being. Adaptation refers to actions that can sustain current trajectories through innovation and improvement. Developing these actions depends upon combining experience and knowledge in order to turn crises into opportunity for renewal.

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URL: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780081022955107541

Indigenous people activities on ecosystems and sustainable development- a paradigm shift

Gyanaranjan Sahoo, … Santosh Pandurang Mane, in Indigenous People and Nature, 2022

1.14 Conclusions

The sustainable development goals (SDGs) of 2030 are intricately linked to ecosystems, environment, and wellbeing of indigenous communities. Understanding how different communities rely on natural ecosystems (e.g., forests, rivers, wetlands, grasslands) in their sociocultural milieu for livelihoods and economic benefits is critical for sustainable use of natural resources. A theoretical background connects the biocultural development with the natural environment, and ecosystems pave a way for achieving targeted sustainable development goals. For this endeavor, it is needed to regulate biophysical, economic, and social values that bring integrated ecosystem benefits. Synthesis of knowledge about social-ecological systems under different landscapes is essential to identify the gaps for improving the existing policies. Evaluation of efficiency gains and tradeoffs under various scenarios of resource exploitation and socioeconomic development in relation to the ecosystem and community development will provide a new perspective for planning and decision-making at various administrative and spatial levels, while sectoral policies relevant to ecosystems will provide a new perspective for planning and decision-making and to ensure that the values are not diminished but rather increased as a result of the policies’ execution. Increased agricultural land use provides food and income, but it also commonly results in difficulties with water quality and quantity in the watershed area, as well as biodiversity loss. The possibility of such a tradeoff must be addressed in policy development in order to ensure community sustainability and survival. It becomes imperative to devise and implement robust policies that could repair and reconstruct social-ecological systems, predict consequences, and evaluate outcomes. Ecosystems also contribute to the resilience of communities by decreasing the risk of natural hazards and minimizing the negative consequences of climate change as well. The degenerating traditional knowledge of communities and degradation of ecosystems are serious concerns that could impact the biocultural regimes, biodiversity, and ecosystem functioning. A wide range of nature-based solutions are engineered to address the emerging challenges of natural ecosystems, which could build resilience and create harmony between indigenous communities and ecosystems, that ensure win-win solutions in the conservation and sustainable development.

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