Resilience Theory in Colombia

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Does resilience thinking have any impact at all on the ground? These two very interesting examples came in via Lorena Franco Vidal at the NGO Fundación Humedales de Colombia. In January of this year, the mentioned NGO decided to initiate a climate vulnerability and resilience assessment of the Fúquene wetland complex in the east of the Colombian Andes (2,600 meters over the sea level).

According to Lorena, this work has been very much inspired by a range of publications on “the problem of fit” – that is when the dynamics of complex social-ecological systems isn’t matched by institutions and governance [e.g. Cummings et al 2006, Galaz et al 2008], as well as the Resilience Alliance workbook for scientists. In addition, the evaluation of biochemichal variables (in bottom and water sediments of the lake) are – inspired by Elinor Ostrom’s work – done by the fishermen community of the wetland. According to Lorena, this group of local stakeholders have been training monitoring for 2 years to be able to follow environmental change in the lake system.

But there is more. During 2008 and 2009, papers on “the problem of fit” as well as David Salt’s and Brian Walker’s book “Resilience Thinking”, inspired a suggested reframing of Colombian biodiversity policy towards an increased emphasis on social-ecological systems, and the need to address multilevel interactions in governance. Results of the suggested modification include, amongst other things: i) a new conceptual framework for biodiversity management, based upon the resilience thinking paradigm applied to socio-ecological systems; ii) a model that accounts for the various stability domains in which natural and social systems appear in the territory; and iii) a revision of the state – pressure – response model, in order to include new drivers of change affecting biodiversity.

The outcomes of this latter “update”, are now being used for systematic country-side consultations, and we look forward to hear more from both these initiatives!

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