4.1 Adaptability and Transformation

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Managing resilience requires adaptability – the ability to monitor, assess, respond, recover and renew following known and unknown disturbances and other change.

Example: Building social capital to transform management of Kristianstad Vattenrike, SwedenAn adaptable system is able to maintain or manage ecological resilience. Sometimes transformation or fundamental change of the system is required. Such transformation relies on the development and nurturing of different forms of capital in order to create and implement options for managing a system.

Key Messages

• The capacity of people, individually and collectively, to manage ecological resilience is adaptability.

• By building capital and trust, the people and organizations involved in a social-ecological system can transform systems.

• Capital has many forms (e.g., economic, cultural, human, natural, political, and social). It is important to distinguish among the various types of capital present in any given system and to understand which types of capital most need to be enhanced and what trade-offs might be involved when different forms of capital are at odds with each other.

• Social capital can be increased when the management of the resource system engages stakeholders at all levels of governance from local to international institutions.

• Building adaptive capacity through the development of trust and capital can be done by: investments to secure ecosystem goods and services; incorporating ecological knowledge into institutional structures; creating new social and ecological networks; combining different forms of knowledge for learning; providing incentives for stakeholder participation; identifying and addressing knowledge gaps; and developing expertise to address those gaps.

• Trade-offs can exist among different forms of resilience. Efforts to increase the resilience of a system to a specified set of disturbances can sometimes reduce the resilience of that system to other disturbances. These trade-offs should be identified.

Adaptive governance can add to adaptability of social-ecological systems. It does so by integrating different types of understanding with adaptive forms of resource management through formal and informal institutions to learn and respond.

• Adaptive governance can enhance general resilience by encouraging flexibility, inclusiveness, diversity, and innovation.

Resilience Assessment

In the assessment that follows you will characterize and assess the various mechanisms for enhancing capital in our system. This will be done by identifying leaders, examining the role of stakeholders and evaluating social capacity in the system. You will also assess system adaptability by examining the roles of governance and institutions in your system and look for opportunities to enhance adaptability.

Is transformation of the system desirable or necessary? What obstacles can you identify to transforming the system? How might you get around those obstacles?

Identify individuals or organizations that have key leadership roles. Are there mechanisms in place to develop leaders and leadership skills?

How would you characterize the levels of ‘trust’ among key stakeholders in the system?

Do stakeholders at all levels of governance have a say in the management of the system? What mechanisms are in place for gathering and incorporating input from stakeholders into the management of the system?

How would you describe the capacity of the community to respond to crisis or disturbance? What limits this capacity?

Which forms of capital present in the system most need to be enhanced?

What is the role of social networks in the system? Do they tend to be dynamic or restrictive i.e. are existing social networks perceived as beneficial to the system or do they impede opportunity for change and innovation?

How is knowledge-sharing among stakeholders facilitated? Is the process of knowledge-sharing formalized or institutionalized in any manner?

Consider the following list of examples for building capital and trust – are any of these practices occurring in the system?

-strategic investments to secure ecosystem goods and services -incorporating ecological knowledge into institutional structures -creating social and ecological networks -combining different forms of knowledge for learning -providing incentives for stakeholder participation -identifying and addressing knowledge gaps -developing expertise

Is the system being managed for enhanced resilience to specific threats? If so, does this focus on a specific aspect of the system strengthen or challenge the system’s overall general resilience?

What institutions (formal and informal) are important in regards to resource use in the system? How flexible are these institutions? Is innovation, encouraged in these institutions? If not, how might this be changed?

Identify trust-building opportunities in your system and devise a plan for implementation.

Devise a plan for improving knowledge-sharing among stakeholders and formalizing mechanisms for input from all levels of governance.

Try to define what is known and what is not known about the main management issues in your system. Make explicit any assumptions underlying these issues.



4.1 Adaptability and Transformation

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