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A modeling framework that allows the simulation of a contamination event under the effects of actions taken by utility managers and consumers will be a useful tool for the analysis of alternative threat mitigation and management strategies. Management strategies are evaluated, including opening hydrants to flush the contaminant and broadcasts. As actions taken by consumer agents and utility operators affect demands and flows in the system, the mechanistic model is updated. Management strategies are evaluated based on the exposure of the population to the contaminant.

The framework is designed to consider the typical issues involved in water distribution threat management and provides valuable analysis of threat containment strategies for water distribution system contamination events. Volume 31 , Issue 5. The full text of this article hosted at iucr.

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If the address matches an existing account you will receive an email with instructions to retrieve your username. Emily M. Search for more papers by this author. Tools Request permission Export citation Add to favorites Track citation. Share Give access Share full text access. Share full text access. Please review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article. Get access to the full version of this article. View access options below. You previously purchased this article through ReadCube.

Institutional Login. Log in to Wiley Online Library. Purchase Instant Access. View Preview. Learn more Check out. Abstract In the event of contamination of a water distribution system, decisions must be made to mitigate the impact of the contamination and to protect public health. Citing Literature. Resilience thinking serves as one useful lens among many to ask questions, learn, and improve understanding of social-ecological systems.

Resilience reflects the ability of people, communities, societies, and cultures to live and develop with change, with ever-changing environments. It is about cultivating the capacity to sustain development in the face of change, incremental and abrupt, expected and surprising Folke The resilience approach emphasizes that social-ecological systems need to be managed and governed for flexibility and emergence rather than for maintaining stability e.

Hence, resilience, as in focus here, is a dynamic concept concerned with navigating complexity, uncertainty, and change across levels and scales e. Resilience is about persisting with change on the current path of development stability domain or basin of attraction adapting, improving, and innovating on that path. It is about having the capacity to continue to learn, self-organize, and develop in dynamic environments faced with true uncertainty and the unexpected, like steering a vessel in turbulent waters e. But sometimes navigation leads to induced isolation and intensification of particular paths and to traps that are difficult to get out of e.

The resilience of the system has become too robust and rigid e. In such situations the challenge is to reduce or even break resilience of the current system to enable shifts away from the current pathway s into new ones, into alternative basins of attraction Carpenter and Brock , Walker et al.

Sometimes those shifts may be smooth, other times revolutionary. As resilience declines, it takes progressively smaller disturbances to push the system into a different regime, or basin of attraction Scheffer and Carpenter Such regime shifts are at the core of resilience thinking e. 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, and feedbacks, and therefore identity, that is, the capacity to change in order to sustain identity; resilience is a dynamic concept focusing on how to persist with change Walker et al.

Adaptability refers to human actions that sustain development on current pathways. Adaptation is a process of deliberate change in anticipation or in reaction to external stimuli and stress Nelson et al. Adaptation and adaptive capacity of people, communities, and societies are concepts in use in global environmental change in general and in climate change in particular e. The adaptability concept in resilience thinking captures the capacity of people in a social-ecological system to learn, combine experience and knowledge, innovate, and adjust responses and institutions to changing external drivers and internal processes.

Adaptability is central to persistence. It helps turn changes and surprises into opportunities and, hence, is an important part of social-ecological resilience Berkes et al. Transformability is about shifting development into new pathways and even creating novel ones. It is about having the ability to cross thresholds and move social-ecological systems into new basins of attractions, into new, emergent, and often unknown development trajectories e.

Such ability draws on sources of resilience from other levels and scales than the one in focus for the transformation of the existing system. Crises can open up space for transformations, for new ways of thinking and operating. Here, experiences can be revitalized, recombined for novelty, and help in navigating the arising transformative opportunities e. Transformability and transformation trajectories are the subject of growing interest e. Some scholars see transformation as the consequence of societal collapse, and others see the capacity to actively transform as an essential property of long-lasting functioning social-ecological systems Feola There are several different ways of approaching transformations e.

The resilience approach to transformations is less about planning and controlling but more about preparing for opportunity or creating conditions of opportunity for navigating the transformations Chapin et al. The resilience approach allows the new identity of the social-ecological system to emerge through interactions of individuals, communities, and societies, and through their interplay with the biosphere within and across scales e.

It concerns encouraging arenas for safe-to-fail experimentation, facilitating different transformative experiments at small scales, and allowing cross-learning and new initiatives to emerge and spread across levels and scales, constrained only by avoiding trajectories undesirable from a sustainability perspective, especially those with known or suspected thresholds that challenge the capacity of the biosphere to sustain societal development and human well-being Westley et al.

Enhancing resilience of the new stability domain is part of the transformation strategy Chapin et al. The transformability insights of resilience thinking have largely emerged from case studies of social-ecological systems and human behavior in the real world e. Resilience whether for adaptability or transformability operates and needs to be addressed across levels and scales Gunderson and Holling Shifting pathways or basins of attractions at one level or scale does not take place in a vacuum.

Any transformation draws on resilience from multiple scales and diverse sources of actors, organizations, institutions, recombining experience and knowledge, learning with change, turning crises into windows of opportunity, and allowing space for or even governing transformations for innovative pathways in tune with the resilience of the biosphere Folke et al. Hence, in addition to emergence, resilience thinking emphasizes that humanity is embedded within the biosphere and that any attempt that takes sustainability seriously will require sustainability transformations with stewardship that operates in synergy with the biosphere foundation Folke et al.

Sustainability transformations seem to be necessary to achieve a just society that thrives within planetary boundaries and a biosphere resilient for humanity Westley et al. To many, the resilience approach is a subset of sustainability science e. Vulnerability research also has strong links to sustainability science e. Sustainability science is defined by the problems it addresses rather than by the disciplines it employs.


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Berkes and Folke started to use the concept of social-ecological systems as an integrated approach of humans-in-nature and related the concept to resilience. In this approach the social refers to the human dimension of people, communities, societies in its diverse facets e. In essence, the social-ecological approach emphasizes that people, communities, economies, societies, cultures are embedded parts of the biosphere and shape ecosystems, from local to global scales, from the past to the future.

At the same time people, communities, economies, societies, cultures are fundamentally dependent on the capacity of the biosphere to sustain human development Folke et al. It represents a biosphere-based sustainability science with resilience thinking as a central ingredient. Baggio et al. Biggs et al.


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To understand the dynamics of intertwined social-ecological systems taking into account that the very nature of systems changes over time e. Social-ecological systems are complex adaptive systems. Complex adaptive systems possess critical thresholds, multiple drivers of change, and reciprocal feedbacks between social and ecological components Levin et al. Many recurring environmental and natural resource challenges tend to be reinforced by the lack of recognition that ecosystems and the social systems that use and depend on them are intimately linked Norgaard , van der Leeuw and Aschan-Leygonie , Reyers et al.

It is the feedback loops amongst them, as interdependent social-ecological systems, that determine their overall dynamics Folke et al. And in fact, they have been linked for a long time e. Theoretical and empirical analyses show how intertwined social-ecological systems are more than the sum of the ecological or the social or their combination, and provide new explanations to regime shifts and tipping points e.

The resilience approach, as part of complex systems understanding e. Complex systems have multiple attractors and there may be shifts from one attractor on a certain pathway to a new attractor and a contrasting pathway stability domain or basin of attraction. Sharp shifts take place in ecosystems that stand out of the blur of fluctuations around trends and may have different causes e. The likelihood of such shifts increases with loss of resilience e. During the last decades it has become clear that human actions cause such shifts by altering resilience and disturbances e.

The Regime Shifts DataBase provides examples of different types of regime shifts that have been documented. The database focuses specifically on regime shifts that have large impacts on ecosystem services and therefore on human well-being. Hence, in resilience thinking, social and ecological systems are intertwined, exhibiting emergent properties and they can exist in qualitatively different states or basins of attraction.

Humans as agents in social-ecological systems shape emergent structures in different ways based on their cultural systems. Geertz presents culture as a historically transmitted pattern of meanings embodied in symbols, a system of inherited conceptions expressed in symbolic forms by means of which humans communicate, perpetuate, and develop their knowledge about and their attitudes toward life. Cultural systems consist of concepts linked in complicated ways that can form consistent world views, can contain inconsistencies, and may or may not accurately model the properties of a social-ecological system.

Consequently, human influence will differ, depending on cultural systems Trosper Deep cultural identities or cultural resilience may both constrain and be essential for adaptation or transformation e. The apparent stability and integrity of institutions and other social phenomena is not inherent, but an illusion created by the choice of a scale of observation that is shorter than the time over which the complex dynamics of the social-ecological system plays out van der Leeuw and Aschan-Leygonie Humans as agents operate in diverse social and cultural contexts that are all an embedded part of the biosphere and that, consequently, will shape the biosphere in complex and different ways in continuous coevolution e.

In complex adaptive systems agents interact and connect with each other often in unpredictable and unplanned ways but from such interaction broader scale patterns with new properties emerge, which then feeds back on the system and influences the interactions of the agents e. Hence, the properties of complex adaptive systems change because of the interplay between the adaptive responses of the parts and the emergent properties of the whole that then feed back to the parts e.

The resilience of individuals, groups, and communities is tightly coupled to this interplay and the emergent properties of the whole. Because complex adaptive systems portray radically disproportional causation i. Multiple slow and fast drivers of change make it difficult to predict when such dramatic changes will occur and to pinpoint cause-and-effect mechanisms e. Living with such complexity and change is facilitated by collaborative and adaptive approaches to management and governance of the biosphere with decision making subject to high degrees of uncertainty and with continuous learning as an important feature e.

In resilience thinking and social-ecological systems research people are viewed as part of the planet, as part of the biosphere and consequently development issues, whether for poverty alleviation, reduced inequality, or diverse aspects of power, are embedded in a biosphere context.

But it has to be stressed that even if a social-ecological system may seem to be on a sustainable biosphere pathway for human well-being, actions to improve resilience on that pathway may benefit resilience of some and undermine resilience and increase vulnerability of others e. In contrast, actions aimed at increasing resilience of individuals, communities, nations as the core focus may reinforce unsustainable pathways, undermine biosphere resilience and challenge sustainability e.

Determining when resilience is on a desirable or undesirable path, and for whom, is an inherently value-laden, subjective and political question, a question that, if sustainability is in focus, needs to be connected to human well-being as part of the biosphere. From this perspective, sustainable development for humanity needs to be guided by approaches based on epistemologies and ontologies of development that appreciate the human-biosphere relationship.

Although on the table, issues of distribution, inequality, and diverse aspects of power and politics in their own right were not the core in the emergence of resilience thinking. Rather, they were incorporated as part of analyses of complex adaptive social-ecological systems, reflected in the abundant resilience work on agency, actors, participation, diverse knowledge systems, learning, coproduction, adaptive management, social networks, collective action, institutions, stewardship, social-ecological innovation, transformation, and multilevel and adaptive governance of social-ecological systems.

Issues of inequality and diverse aspects of power and politics in social-ecological systems and sustainability are explicitly addressed through collaboration across knowledge domains and in the continuous evolution of resilience thinking e. In this context, Brown argues that resilience can help understand and respond to the challenges of the contemporary age, challenges characterized by high uncertainty, globalized and interconnected systems, increasing disparities, and limited choices.

Resilience is increasingly having an impact on development research, from the individual, to community, to society as a whole. Development research with a resilience connection is becoming abundant, theoretically and empirically e. The theory of development resilience approaches poverty dynamics of individuals in a way that makes the literature of economics and social science on poverty and poverty traps more explicit when considering issues of risk, dynamics, and appreciation of ecological feedback.

This definition of resilience at the microscale puts the individual agents and their basic rights and aspirations for improved living conditions in focus. There is work on poverty, adaptability, food security, social protection, adaptive capacity, and resilience of individuals, households, and groups in relation to ecosystem and environmental change in general, and climate change in particular e.

Community resilience has surfaced as a vibrant area e. For example, it has been found that communities can seize on the window of opportunity created by climate-induced shocks to generate sustained social-ecological improvement, implying that management should foster local capacities for endogenous institutional change to enhance community resilience to climate shocks McSweeney and Coomes Norris et al. Robards and Alessa note that Arctic communities have maintained their existence over time by their ability to recognize gradual or rapid changes and to adapt to those, rather than to any specific outcomes of a change.

Resilience as a dynamic concept is reflected in the definition of community resilience as the existence, development, and engagement of community resources by community members to thrive in an environment characterized by change, uncertainty, unpredictability, and surprise and adapt and occasionally transform Margis It is about planning for not having a plan, which requires flexibility, decision-making skills, and trusted sources of information that function in the face of unknowns Norris et al.

The cross-scale dimension of community and social resilience and in relation to globalization processes is gaining attention and striking the right balances between communities and their scalar interactions, and dependencies on global economic processes is key for social-ecological resilience e. Brown and Westaway provide an excellent resilience review synthesizing knowledge on agency, adaptive capacity, and resilience across human development, well-being, and disasters literature to provide insights to support more integrated and human-centered approaches to understanding environmental change.

They find first, that there has been a shift away from the notion that central concepts of resilience thinking—adaptive capacity, resilience, and well-being—can be objectively measured by a set of quantifiable indicators to a much more complex, nuanced view that understands them as comprising subjective, relational, as well as objective aspects. Second, there is a growing recognition that dynamic systems approaches, including ecological or social-ecological in its broadest sense, and cross-scale perspectives are necessary.

Third, in the human development, well-being, and disasters fields, there is a move away from deficit models to ideas about assets and capacities Brown and Westaway Brown in the recent book on resilience in development argues that a resilience-based approach to development might radically transform responses to climate change, to the dilemmas of managing ecosystems, and to rural and urban poverty in the developing world. She elaborates the notion of everyday forms of resilience as part of a new development agenda with three core components: resistance, rootedness, and resourcefulness.

Resistance puts concerns for politics and power at the heart of resilience, how new spaces for change can be opened up and how positive transformation might be shaped and mobilized. Rootedness is about locating culture and place, both as biophysical environment and context and as identity and attachment, whilst also working at and across multiple scales.

Resourcefulness concerns capacities, types of knowledge, innovation, and learning and how resources can be accessed and used in response to change. In a classic paper, Adger compares social and ecological resilience and defines social resilience as the ability of groups or communities to cope with external stresses and disturbances as a result of social, institutional, political, and environmental change.

Hall and Lamont present a systems-oriented definition of social resilience that, very much like resilience thinking, emphasizes adaptation or transformation over return to an earlier state. They are interested, in general terms, in the understanding of how individuals, communities, and societies secure their well-being in the face of its challenges, how well-being is secured by groups of people more or less bound together in an organization, class, group, community, or country.

More specifically, they see social resilience in dynamic terms as the achievement of well-being even when that entails significant modifications to behavior or to the social frameworks that structure and give meaning to behavior. Well-being in this context refers broadly to physical and psychological health, material sustenance, and the sense of dignity and belonging that comes with being a recognized member of the community or society. Hence, in focus is the capacity of individuals or groups to secure favorable outcomes material, symbolic, emotional under new circumstances and when necessary by new means.

Consequently, social resilience is used to denote an outcome in which members of a group sustain their well-being in the face of challenges to it Hall and Lamont The additional argument from resilience thinking is that well-being of individuals, communities, and societies is tightly coupled to the capacity of the biosphere to sustain it. This is an obvious fact in a situation when the scale, connectivity, spread, and speed of human actions shape the dynamics of the biosphere and the earth system as a whole e.

The scale of human actions and the speed, spread, and connectivity of globalization create new complex dynamics across levels and domains that play out in new ways e. Interconnections of humans in a globalized society can propagate and cascade across countries and regions e. Keys et al. These interactions and feedbacks are not just global but cross-scale e. It implies that studies and action of the local should not only focus on endogenous relations, but also account for and prepare for living and collaborating with influences from other levels, be it political decisions, economic drivers, transnational companies, migration policies, altered rainfall patterns, or climate change e.

Some of those may be slow creeping influences, others abrupt and surprising e.

It is a truly intertwined social-ecological planet we are living on. The great acceleration of the human dimension on earth, in terms of people and activities, and diverse reasons behind it from the discovery of fossil fuels to power dynamics between nations and regions, has placed humanity in new terrain as a major force in shaping biosphere processes. This scale increase in relation to the life-supporting biosphere e. Resilience and regime shifts are part of the challenges humanity is facing in the Anthropocene, from regional tipping points e.

It has been suggested that to sustain the planet in a Holocene-like state the geological era of the last 11 thousand years of favorable condition for development of human civilizations , transformations at local and regional scales will be needed e. In other words, to sustain resilience of favorable biosphere conditions for humanity as a whole, there will have to be transformations toward new ways of development, not just incremental tweaking of business as usual on current development pathways e.

Views on good or bad pathways of transformations differ and often depend on values and political positions on issues like globalization, power inequalities, and distribution conflicts of development, uneven environmental degradation included e. A resilience approach would emphasize flexibility and opportunity of diverse pathways and keeping options open to be able to shift between those, in a manner that remains within the safe operating space of the biosphere, and with prosperity and abundance for humans in collaboration with biosphere resilience.

Resilience as an approach for analyzing, understanding, and managing change in social-ecological systems is different from resilience as a property of a social-ecological system e. Resilience as a system property is, as discussed earlier, the capacity of a specific social-ecological system to continually self-organize and adapt in the face of ongoing change in a way that sustains the system in a certain stability domain or development path.

When analyzing resilience as a system property in relation to regime shifts it is useful to consider resilience of what to what Carpenter et al. A central challenge in this context is the capacity of social-ecological systems to continue providing key ecosystem services that underpin human well-being in the face of unexpected shocks as well as gradual, ongoing change e. How can resilience as a property be captured? There is a search for metrics and indicators of resilience, not an easy task because social-ecological systems are complex adaptive systems, with moving targets continuously developing and evolving.

It is important to avoid the trap of developing metrics of what is easy to measure rather than what is important Carpenter et al. Developing a set of indicators of resilience as a system property may block the deeper understanding of system dynamics needed to apply resilience thinking and navigate a turbulent world e. Therefore, resilience as a system property should not be reduced to a simple metric, but different types of metrics and indicators need to be used and combined to capture facets of resilience and help guide management and governance.

A snapshot of approaches is presented below. In recent years progress has been made in understanding signals of regime shifts and critical transitions. Several studies aim at developing resilience indicators in relation to regime shifts in diverse ecosystems, often with a focus on the interplay of fast and slow variables and feedback management e. There are efforts aimed at capturing resilience in economic terms and models in relation to regime shifts e. Others are developing metrics of change in ecosystem services and natural capital in relation to social-ecological systems and human well-being and with connections to resilience e.

Some focus on measuring resilience for whom at the individual level and often in relation to poverty e. Crisis turning into windows of opportunity and aligning actors and networks across multilayers of governance at critical moments seem to be of significance in such social-ecological regime shifts e. There are those who concentrate on adaptation and adaptive capacity in relation to change with links to resilience thinking e. The role of memory and sources of resilience are addressed in work on cultural landscapes and with links to sense-of-place and deep identities as resilience features in adaptations and transformations e.

Another critical feature concerns the role of functional biodiversity and functional groups of species in ecosystem resilience and regime shifts e.

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Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) Approach to Production Systems and Organisations

Functional diversity and social actor strategies are increasingly linked e. A critical concept for resilience management in this context is response diversity, defined as the diversity of responses to environmental change among species contributing to the same ecosystem function Elmqvist et al. Response diversity has been found to be particularly important for renewal and reorganization in ecosystems following change e. The concept is gaining interest in research on social-ecological systems including livelihood options across multiple levels e. There will always be tension between the degree of simplification that measurement and metrics demand and the point at which these make the system understanding fragmented and their implementation meaningful Quinlan et al.

Resilience assessments aim at a deep understanding of social-ecological system dynamics, recognizing that resilience is a dynamic property shaped by many different processes of interacting fast and slow variables, including the larger context and cross-scale dynamics in which the social-ecological system is embedded e. Building on a theoretical foundation and case study history, resilience assessments offer guidance toward understanding social-ecological dynamics of a given place and time with the objective to inform management e.

The practice of resilience assessments has illustrated the value of a shared process of learning and understanding complex social-ecological systems dynamics Quinlan et al. Resilience assessments have been tested and applied in a number of settings like catchment and mountain management in Australia and the USA, municipalities and urban areas in Canada and Sweden, or pasture management in Afghanistan e. Urbanization is a major driver of the Anthropocene e. There is a tendency to become mentally disconnected from the biosphere in urban settings e. There is lot of work on urban resilience e.

Green spaces and their stewards and stewardship is an exciting area of resilience research in urban social-ecological systems e. It will be in the self-interest of urban dwellers in the Anthropocene to create incentives for stewardship of their supporting ecosystems, or social-ecological systems often far away from city borders that secure the basis of city life. The stewardship challenge is of central focus in resilience thinking e. Ecosystem services are a key emergent outcome of social-ecological interactions e. Therefore, ecological knowledge and understanding of ecosystem processes and dynamics, of the natural capital, and the social-ecological interplay of such processes and dynamics is a prerequisite in this context e.

Berkes and Folke , Berkes et al. Skill sets for stewardship of natural capital range from abilities of experimenting, learning, and gaining ecological knowledge and experience on the ground e. Supported by proper institutions and incentives such skills help build identity, meaning, pride, and dignity in being a steward of the ecological foundation for human well-being in collaboration with the biosphere.

Work on distribution, equality, fairness, justice, power are of major significance in the resilience and stewardship context, but seldom the core focus in their own right. They enter resilience thinking as significant features of understanding and governing social-ecological dynamics for biosphere stewardship, human well-being, and sustainability e. The challenge of biosphere stewardship and resilience was raised in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and through the engagement of resilience-oriented scholars in the development of the assessment, especially in the case studies of the subglobal assessment as well as the scenarios work e.

Here, the role of people as part of ecosystem dynamics and stewardship of dynamic landscapes and seascapes and their ecosystem services were in the forefront as well as the challenge of bringing in diverse knowledge systems as part of stewardship and governance across institutions at multiple levels Carpenter et al. There is a lot of work on management of ecosystem resilience for ecosystem services e. The literature on adaptive comanagement of ecosystem and complex social-ecological systems is also rich e. There is resilience work on the role of indigenous and local knowledge systems as experienced-based knowledge for ecosystem management of social-ecological systems including shocks e.

Social-ecological inventories have been used to set such processes in motion e. Resilience work has studied institutions and governance structures that allow for ecosystem-based management in some detail and has focused especially on the emergence of flexible governance arrangements that have shifted and transformed human activities toward adaptive governance of social-ecological systems e. This work has been particularly well developed with regard to the stewardship of landscapes and seascapes e.

Several studies illustrate the role of institutional entrepreneurs in this context e. In these situations actors start interacting and connecting with each other, often in unpredictable and unplanned ways, and from such interactions broader scale patterns with new properties emerge, which than feed back on the social-ecological system and influence the actors and their interactions Levin et al.

Such a dynamic interplay of actors, social networks, bridging organizations, and diverse and multilevel institutions, continuously learning with change, are found to be significant features of social-ecological system dynamics, often emerging in relation to crisis perceived or real as well as the opening of windows-of-opportunity for change toward stewardship of ecosystem services e. However, restructuring current institutions and governance systems for resilience is no small task and the challenge in relation to social-ecological systems and resilience is subject to a growing literature e.

Such restructuring raises issues of representative democracy, accountability, and legitimacy in governance e. There is also the problem of fit between institutions, governance, and social-ecological systems e. Global governance challenges are raised in relation to planetary boundaries and stewardship e.

There is also work on resilience in relation to legal structures, principles, and processes e. West and Schultz conclude that the European Court of Human Rights constitutes an important site of learning for governance of social-ecological systems, because it situates knowledge and experience of environmental change in the context of discussions about the relative rights, duties, and responsibilities of social actors, facilitating the mutually adaptive evolution of truth and justice across scales.

As stated by Cosens the recognition of the complexity in the social-ecological system, coupled with a growing realization of the complete dependence of the human race on the ability of the ecological system to serve it, requires reform of the administrative state to allow society to responsibly respond to the challenge of managing human interaction with ecosystems.

Scenario planning is a forward looking approach aimed at articulating multiple alternative futures in a way that spans a key set of critical uncertainties, using qualitative and quantitative methods and data e. Scenario work is an important part of the Future Earth Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society PECS , a program with a strong focus on social-ecological systems, resilience, and stewardship of ecosystem services in dynamic landscapes and seascapes, operating in the context of the challenges of the Anthropocene Carpenter et al.

Resilience thinking has been characterized as the science of surprise. Surprise—when perceived reality departs qualitatively from expectation—is strongly shaped by underlying metaphors, models, and belief systems Holling Surprise is not just about shocks and extreme events but also about slower changing and less visible dynamics e. We are not always aware of the sands shifting beneath our feet as events change the character of the times in diffuse ways Hall and Lamont Resilience thinking is about the interplay of incremental and abrupt change, of slow and fast variables in complex adaptive systems and how it plays out in uncertain, surprising, and often unpredictable ways e.

Resilience thinking is about true uncertainty and unknown unknowns and not just about probabilities around risk and uncertainty Carpenter et al. As suggested by Holling contemporary challenges of the globally intertwined social-ecological systems are indeed system challenges, complex, unpredictable, nonlinear, with discontinuous behavior in space and time and where causes, at times simple, are always multiple. The cross-scale challenges are a reflection of decadal to centurial accumulation of human influences on air and oceans and transformations of landscapes causing sudden changes in fast environmental variables and affecting the health of people, the vitality of societies, and the essential life-support functions of the biosphere e.

Indeed, the complex interplay of human actions shaping biosphere capacity has placed humanity in a novel situation of interactions of social-ecological systems across scales that are expressed in new, intertwined, and often turbulent and surprising ways e.

Account Options

The situation presents major challenges but also opportunities for adaptation and transformation e. Solutions that focus on knowledge of small parts or that assume constancy or stability of fundamental relationships tend to be pathological producing policy and science with a sense of certainty leading to rigid and unseeing institutions and increasingly vulnerable social-ecological systems Holling , Gunderson et al. It may even be possible that recent advances and widespread availability of information may make people overconfident about the ability to anticipate and deal with surprise, and thereby making people more vulnerable to it Kates and Clark The challenge is to anticipate change and surprise in a manner that does not lead to lock-in and loss of future options e.

Managing for resilience enhances the likelihood of sustaining development in a rapidly changing world where surprise is likely e. When transformation is inevitable, resilient social-ecological systems contain the components needed for renewal and reorganization, reconnecting development to the biosphere for human well-being and sustainability e. Resilience-building management of the Anthropocene is flexible and open to learning. It attends to slowly changing, fundamental variables that create memory, legacy, diversity, and the capacity to innovate in both social and ecological components of the system.

It also conserves, builds experience, and nurtures the diverse elements that are necessary to reorganize and adapt to novel, unexpected, and transformative circumstances. Thus, it increases the range of surprises with which a social-ecological system can cope Folke et al. Often, resilience is applied to challenges relating to particular aspects of a social-ecological system that might arise from a particular set of sources or shocks, referred to as specified resilience Walker et al. Becoming too focused on specified resilience to increase resilience of particular parts or dimensions of a social-ecological system to specific disturbances may cause the system to lose resilience in other ways.

This observation is critical for, e. For example, the Pumpa social-ecological system of rice-paddy irrigation in Nepal developed into a socially well-tuned institution for dealing with specific fluctuations of climate and hydrology, but in the process the governance structure for water management created vulnerability to long-term changes in climate and institutional arrangements Cifdaloz et al. In fact, it seem like governance and management aimed at reducing variance in flows of ecosystem services will lead to loss of resilience in social-ecological systems to changing conditions Carpenter et al.

Hence, there are trade-offs between resilience of a social-ecological system to a small set of known kinds of disturbance versus the vast universe of unknown novel shocks e. Specified resilience approaches may be narrowing options for dealing with novel shocks and even increasing the likelihood of new kinds of instability Carpenter et al. It seems like systems that become very robust to frequent kinds of disturbance necessarily become fragile in relation to infrequent kinds e. General resilience is a more broad-spectrum type of resilience for building capacity of social-ecological systems to adapt or transform in response to the unknown.

It is about resilience to all kinds of shocks, including extreme, novel, and noncomputable ones e. Among conditions that enable general resilience are diversity, modularity, openness, reserves, feedbacks, nestedness, monitoring, leadership, and trust Carpenter et al. General resilience is about having the capacity to deal with ongoing diffuse gradual change, with true uncertainty and surprise. General resilience envisions a central role in buying insurance against surprises generated by complex intertwined social-ecological systems of the Anthropocene.

But, as a public good it has a cost. How much general resilience is needed, in what dimensions, and how can long-term practices be woven into actions that also meet the immediate needs of people and ecosystems?

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Based on empirical work and case studies, Folke et al. The first emphasizes the significance of accepting uncertainty and surprise, taking advantage of change and crisis, and having the capacity of turning change into opportunity for social-ecological development in tune with the biosphere.

The second illuminates the importance of nurturing diversity for social-ecological resilience, recognizing that diversity is more than insurance against uncertainty and surprise. It also provides the bundle of components, and their history, that makes development and innovation following disturbance and crisis possible, components that are embedded in the social-ecological memory. The fourth brings these issues together in the context of self-organization, scale, governance, and external drivers, stressing the significance of the dynamic interplay between diversity and disturbance Folke et al.

These principles are P1 maintain diversity and redundancy, P2 manage connectivity, P3 manage slow variables and feedbacks, P4 foster an understanding of social-ecological systems as complex adaptive systems, P5 encourage learning and experimentation, P6 broaden participation, and P7 promote polycentric governance systems.

Quinlan et al. Briefly summarized, the principles stress that P1 high levels of diversity and redundancy, but not too high, tend to make social-ecological systems more resilient to change and provide options and flexibility for development; that P2 connectivity needs to be managed for sources of resilience, for trust in networks, for new information, etc. Their implementation involves clarification of goals and developing and monitoring relevant metrics for each principle, taking an integrative approach that builds on multiple knowledge systems, shifting away from exclusively managing for efficiency toward planning for uncertainty and surprise, creating spaces for spontaneous exploration, and building trust and social capital Biggs et al.

Such principles, whether for resilience building, collective action dilemmas e. Such principles challenge the presumption that scholars can make simple, predictive models of social-ecological systems and deduce universal solutions, panaceas, to implement a certain principle e. Rather, they support reflection, learning, and adaptation in search of deep understanding of complex, multivariable, nonlinear, cross-scale, and changing social-ecological systems and how to relate this understanding for biosphere stewardship.

Resilience thinking is an integrative approach for dealing with the sustainability challenge. It is about cultivating the capacity to sustain development in the face of change, incremental and abrupt, expected and surprising, in relation to diverse pathways and thresholds and tipping points between them. Resilience thinking can be viewed as a subset of sustainability science and has a strong focus on complex adaptive and truly intertwined social-ecological systems of people, communities, economies, societies, cultures interacting across spatial and temporal scales with ecosystems as part of the biosphere.

The scale, speed, and connectivity of human actions in a globalized and intertwined world create new complex dynamics that play out in new, uncertain, and surprising ways and differently for different people and places. Resilience of a social-ecological system refers to the capacity to develop and sustain human well-being in diverse contexts in the face of such change, both incremental and abrupt, but also through adapting or transforming in response to change.

Social-ecological systems are embedded in the biosphere. The biosphere connection is a central observation of resilience thinking, an observation that has to be explicit in work on resilience and social-ecological systems if sustainability is to be taken seriously. Confronted with planetary boundaries, it will become central for human well-being in the urbanized 21st century to create incentives for transformation of human actions toward stewardship of complex adaptive social-ecological systems in ways that are in tune with the resilience of the biosphere.

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