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Governance and the capacity to manage resilience in regional social-ecological systems

Lebel, Louis, Anderies, John M., Campbell, Bruce M., Folke, Carl, Hatfield-Dodds, Steve, Hughes, Terry P. and Wilson, James (2006). Governance and the capacity to manage resilience in regional social-ecological systems. Ecology and Society: a journal of integrative science for resilience and sustainability,11(1).

Document type: Journal Article
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Title Governance and the capacity to manage resilience in regional social-ecological systems
Author Lebel, Louis
Anderies, John M.
Campbell, Bruce M.
Folke, Carl
Hatfield-Dodds, Steve
Hughes, Terry P.
Wilson, James
Journal Name Ecology and Society: a journal of integrative science for resilience and sustainability
Publication Date 2006
Volume Number 11
Issue Number 1
ISSN 1708-3087   (check CDU catalogue open catalogue search in new window)
Total Pages 21
Place of Publication Canada
Publisher Resilience Alliance Publications
Field of Research 0501 - Ecological Applications
0502 - Environmental Science and Management
HERDC Category C1 - Journal Article (DEST)
Abstract The sustainability of regional development can be usefully explored through several different lenses. In situations in which uncertainties and change are key features of the ecological landscape and social organization, critical factors for sustainability are resilience, the capacity to cope and adapt, and the conservation of sources of innovation and renewal. However, interventions in social-ecological systems with the aim of altering resilience immediately confront issues of governance. Who decides what should be made resilient to what? For whom is resilience to be managed, and for what purpose? In this paper we draw on the insights from a diverse set of case studies from around the world in which members of the Resilience Alliance have observed or engaged with sustainability problems at regional scales. Our central question is: How do certain attributes of governance function in society to enhance the capacity to manage resilience? Three specific propositions were explored: (1) participation builds trust, and deliberation leads to the shared understanding needed to mobilize and self-organize; (2) polycentric and multilayered institutions improve the fit between knowledge, action, and social-ecological contexts in ways that allow societies to respond more adaptively at appropriate levels; and (3) accountable authorities that also pursue just distributions of benefits and involuntary risks enhance the adaptive capacity of vulnerable groups and society as a whole. Some support was found for parts of all three propositions. In exploring the sustainability of regional social-ecological systems, we are usually faced with a set of ecosystem goods and services that interact with a collection of users with different technologies, interests, and levels of power. In this situation in our roles as analysts, facilitators, change agents, or stakeholders, we not only need to ask: The resilience of what, to what? We must also ask: For whom?
Keywords governance
adaptive capacity
social justice
polycentric institutions
multilayered institutions
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