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Resilience - Going from Conventional to Adaptive Freshwater Management for Human and Ecosystem Compatibility

Resilience - Going from Conventional to Adaptive Freshwater Management for Human and Ecosystem Compatibility

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Published by elvato
Moberg, F. and V. Galaz (2005): Resilience - Going from Conventional to Adaptive Freshwater Management for Human and Ecosystem Compatibility. Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), Stockholm.
Moberg, F. and V. Galaz (2005): Resilience - Going from Conventional to Adaptive Freshwater Management for Human and Ecosystem Compatibility. Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), Stockholm.

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10/24/2012

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RESILIENCE:
Going from Conventional to AdaptiveFreshwater Management for Humanand Ecosystem Compatibility
A state-of-the-art introduction for centralgovernments in developed and deve-loping countries, sub-sovereign nationalbodies, universities and research insti-tutes, community organisations, banksand private investors, aid donors,multilateral financial institutions, UNagencies and other international or-ganisations.
 The Centre for Transdisciplinary Research, CTM
AT STOCKHOLM UNIVERSITY
 
Swedish Water House Policy Briefs
Nr. 3
The World Changes Constantly;So Should Water andEcosystem Management
Noteto the Reader:
Swedish Water House Policy Briefsexplore key future-oriented – yetoften inadequately explored orunderstood – water and relatedsubjects. Each brief
1)
outlines thespecific issue/problem,
2)
explainsits relevance,
3)
presents and ex-plains new solutions and
4)
offersconclusions which present policyrecommendations, recommendedapproaches or lessons learned.
Description
This policy brief highlights the needfor water management to incorpo-rate complexity and uncertainty andintroduces the concepts of “resilience”and “adaptive co-management.”It emphasises the need to go fromconventional to ecosystem-orientedadaptive freshwater management.This policy brief has been producedjointly by the Swedish Water House,The Centre for TransdisciplinaryResearch
(CTM)
at Stockholm Uni-versity, Stockholm InternationalWater Institute,
IESC
and Albaeco.It is based on the trans-disciplinarywork of social and natural scien-tists in co-operation, for example:Ajaya Dixit, Malin Falkenmark,Carl Folke, Line Gordon, MarcusMoench, Per Olsson and JohanRockström.
How to Cite:
Moberg, F., Galaz,V. Resilience: Going from Con-ventional to Adaptive FreshwaterManagement for Human andEcosystem Compatibility. SwedishWater House Policy Brief Nr. 3.SIWI, 2005.Visit www.swedishwaterhouse.seor www.siwi.org to downloadthis or other titles
H
uman well-being and development depend on ecosystem goods such as food, timberand medicines, and ecosystem services such as water and air purification, carbonstorage, pollination, soil formation, and the provision of aesthetic and cultural benefits.Freshwater – the “bloodstream of the biosphere” – is crucial in this respect as it drives criti-cal processes and functions in forests, woodlands, wetlands, grasslands, croplands andother terrestrial systems. This bloodstream of both society and nature is however becomingincreasingly complex to manage. Why? Because human induced environmental changes,from the local to the global scale, have serious impacts on water flows and on ecosystems.The latter is particularly noteworthy because our earlier perceptions about the stability ofecosystems, and that change is possible to control, have proven false.Today we know that freshwater systems are complex, adaptive but vulnerable sys-tems. Aquatic ecosystems and their terrestrial siblings often do not respond to gradualchange in a smooth way, rather a stressed ecosystem can suddenly shift from a seem-ingly steady state to an undesired state that is difcult to reverse. Until management
Perception andrepresentationPerception andrepresentation
EcologicalsystemLinearsystemPredictabilityLinear (optimal) planning– Focus on (optimal) output– Command and control planningthrough fixed policies– Top-down central planning– Effective hierarchical organizations– Scientific knowledge
Un-predictability Adaptive freshwater management – Focus on processes and interactionsbetween parts at different temporal and spatial scales– Experiments, monitoring, evaluation,feedback and back again– Distributed and localized planning– Foster organizations to deal withchange – Knowledge diversity (scientific knowledge and local knowledge)
Complexadaptive system
It’s all in the mind: the standard perception of freshwater management leads to inflexible, and oftenineffective, command-and-control approaches (left); accounting for ecological complexity opens avenues toadaptability which builds better resilience to, for example, flooding. Illustration by Henrik Ernstson.
 
Swedish Water House Policy Briefs
Nr. 3
THE ISSUE
produce goods (like timber, crops and medicines) and services(like flood control, shoreline protection, pollination and waterpurification) which support and sustain social and economicdevelopment. Unfortunately, human influences on freshwaterflows all over the planet are straining the support capacityof ecosystems and making them more vulnerable. The daysof living with resilient (see Box
1
), predictable and self-repair-ing ecosystems that “bounce back” from stresses and distur-bances (such as storms, fires and pollution) are over. What’smore, population growth, increased food production, climatechange, urbanisation and industrialisation have made waterand ecosystem management even more complex.The crucial challenge now is to improve our ability to ac-tively co-manage water and water-dependent ecosystems sothat both social and ecological resilience, and thus sustainableinstitutions are capable and willing to embrace this uncertainty,and to systematically learn from their actions, integrated waterresource management is likely to fail to deal with complexityand uncertainty in freshwater management. The challenge is tolive with change without losing important structures and functionsin life-supporting ecosystems and in societies. Both change andpersistence is required.
 Water: A Key Resource for Human Development 
There is a growing need for a wiser, more adaptive approachto management of ecosystems and water flows. Water pow-ers our industries, grows our crops, facilitates sanitation anddrives our life-supporting ecosystems.Despite immense technological progress and urbanisation,human society still depends on the capacity of ecosystems toEcosystem resilience is the capacity of an ecosystem to copewith change and perturbation, such as storms, fire and pollution.Loss of resilience leads to more vulnerable systems, and possibleecosystem shifts to undesired states that provide fewer ecosystemgoods (like fish and crops) and services (like flood control andwater purification). Such loss of resilience can be caused by,for example, pollution, climate change, loss of biodiversity oraltered freshwater flows. With decreased resilience, clear lakescan suddenly turn into murky, oxygen-depleted pools, grasslandsinto shrub-deserts, and coral reefs into algae-covered rubble. Re-silience is the capacity of a system both to withstand pressuresand to rebuild and renew itself if degraded.
Resilience as the “Immune System” of Ecosystems
Stressed, sleep-deprived and/or poorly nourished people aremore susceptible to illness and recover more slowly afterwards.Likewise, studies of rangeland, forest and ocean ecosystemsshow that human-induced stress and overexploitation of speciesreduce their resilience to storms, fires or other events which theycoped with before. Just as a person might seem unaffected byhis or her destructive lifestyle, an ecosystem with low resilienceoften seems unaffected until a disturbance causes it to exceed acritical threshold. When resilience is lowered, even minor distur-bances can cause a shift to a state that is difficult, expensive oreven impossible to reverse.
 Social Resilience
Social resilience is a measure of a community’s ability to copewith change (for example in its environment) without losing itscore functions as a community, including its economic andmanagement possibilities. Human societies depend on ecosys-tems for survival but also continuously impact them from localto global scales. For such intertwined social-ecological systems(SES), resilience is the capacity to absorb, or even benefit from,perturbations and changes that affect them, and so to persistwithout a qualitative change in the system’s structure and func-tion. Notably, social resilience differs fundamentally from eco-system resilience by having the added capacity of humans toanticipate and plan for the future.
Box 1:
What is Resilience?

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