Tag Archives: resilience assessment

Arctic Resilience Assessment research position at SRC

Stockholm Resilience Centre is looking for a researcher in Resilience in Arctic Social-Ecological Systems.  Applications are due Jan 23. The job ad states:

In a joint venture with the Stockholm Environmental Institute,  Stockholm Resilience Centre seeks a researcher to be scientific leader in an Arctic Resilience Report (ARR). The ARR has been approved as an Arctic Council project and is a priority for the Swedish chairmanship of the Arctic Council. The goal of the project is to better understand impacts and risks related to integrated processes of change in the Arctic with focus on the risk for rapid shifts in ecosystems services that affect human well-being. The ARR will furthermore explore strategies to build social-ecological resilience among Arctic communities.

The ARR includes activities until 2015. It is based on active engagement with stakeholders both in identifying valuable aspects of social-ecological systems in the Arctic and identifying drivers that affect them. This will be followed by an analysis of potential tipping points that can affect important ecosystems services and human well-being. An integral part of the assessment is also to identify policy and management options that may be needed for strengthening resilience, for adaptation, and for transformational change when this is necessary. The method for the project will build on and extend the approach developed in the Resilience Assessment workbook.

Work Tasks
You will be the scientific leader of the ARR and work closely with the project leader and other staff at the Stockholm Resilience Centre and Stockholm Environment Institute and also with international networks, including the “Resilience Alliance”. Roles and responsibilities of the ARR Scientific Leader include:

  • Provide the scientific leadership in developing and carrying out the resilience assessment in the ARR.
  • Initiate and support different project activities under the ARR, and lead the method development for the resilience assessment.
  • Be the lead person in synthesizing insights and in structuring the interim and final reports of the ARR, and function as one of the lead authors.
  • Together with the ARR Project Leader, establish knowledge partnerships (international research networks, interactions with Arctic Council working groups and core programs, and engagement with key stakeholder groups) required in the assessment work.
  • Work closely with the Project Leader and the rest of the project team on all matters, including raising additional funds.
  • Start establishing an Arctic research group at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, together with the centre leadership.


  • Mid-level to senior academic experience in resilience research and integrated assessments.
  • Experience from research on social-ecological systems and resilience.
  • Research experience from the Arctic region.
  • Experience from policy oriented assessments/studies and participatory research processes.
  • Experience or familiarity with the Arctic Council.

Conditions of Employment
Employment is part-time to full-time (50-100 %), depending on the applicant and to be negotiated individually. Fixed-term contract of one year, subject to renewal up to four years in total. Access immediately. Stockholm University administers individual wages, therefore, please indicate salary requirement.

For more details see the full position announcement.

Resilience Thinking in Practice

On the final afternoon of the Resilience 2011 conference last month in Tempe, Arizona, a panel session on resilience assessment packed out the room.This wasn’t surprising given that a recurring theme throughout the conference and in my own discussions with other attendees revolved around the practical applications of resilience thinking.

How do we take the growing number of insights from resilience research such as a better understanding of threshold indicators and dynamics, the roles of leaders and entrepreneurs in shaping transformation processes, and how social networks influence natural resource governance, and apply them to cases in a systematic way so that lessons learned can be more easily shared among researchers and practitioners?

One way is to use a common framework or approach to assessing resilience in a variety of systems over time. The revised “Resilience Assessment: Workbook for Practitioners” takes us one step closer by providing a framework and laying out the key concepts, questions, and activities involved in conducting an assessment. It is not the only approach, and there are numerous potential variations, particularly ones tailored for specific types of systems (e.g., coral reefs, dryland systems, and in a development context, to name a few), but it can facilitate the knowledge sharing that is necessary to test and apply resilience thinking in practice. And importantly, add to broader understanding around how, when and whether or not to intervene in the management of social-ecological systems to make them more resilient.

During the panel session Paul Ryan, from Interface NRM, drew from the dozens of resilience assessment projects he has been involved with in South-eastern Australia and described how he and Brian Walker, from CSIRO, have applied resilience concepts in planning processes with Catchment Management Authorities. Some of the challenges he identified reinforce the role of resilience assessment as part of a long-term process of guiding change that requires a level of commitment and on-going engagement from those involved.

Lisen Schultz, from the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University, and Ryan Plummer, from Brock University in Canada, presented an approach for identifying and engaging key actors using social-ecological inventories based on their work in Biosphere Reserves in Sweden and Canada. They are currently developing an SES inventory module for the resilience assessment workbook that will add to a growing set of tools and resources on the RA website.

Megan Meacham, a graduate of the Ecosystems, Resilience, and Governance Masters program at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, presented the resilience assessment resources she helped to develop on the RA website including an annotated bibliography, examples of key concepts, and a project database.

Finally, Xavier Basurto from Duke University shared a fascinating case study of the Seri pen shell fishery in Mexico through the lens of what he referred to as a ‘retro-fit approach to resilience assessment’. The fully integrated social and ecological characteristics of the system are key to understanding how this fishery has avoided over-exploitation while others nearby have not.

Resilience Assessment in Roghun, Tajikistan

kukobulokhEarlier this month Christo Fabricius and I were in Tajikistan to conduct participatory workshops with Mountain Societies Development Support Program (MSDSP) staff and community members from two rural villages in the District of Roghun as part of a resilience assessment that began with an initial visit to the area last October. Tajikistan is a fascinating place for a resilience assessment for many reasons. The first being that it is relatively under-studied in the context of applying emerging theories and tools for examining the biophysical and human dimensions of environmental change. The second reason is that the country and region in general is experiencing rapid change across a range of sectors.

Climate change impacts will vary across Tajikistan but the average annual temperature in the region is expected to increase greater than the predicted global average. Evidence of receding glaciers and land degradation are coupled with the start of a mass-migration of workers returning home from Russia, episodic energy crises, and large-scale industrial development. These current dynamics are layered upon its relatively recent independence from Russia, Civil war in the 1990’s, and longstanding cultural traditions.

While the challenges to resilience can be readily apparent, there are also opportunities to draw upon the many forms of natural, social, and human capital in the region to build adaptive capacity. The resilience assessment process helps us to identify these opportunities and consider them in the context of existing constraints and the need to address imminent and expected system shocks alongside long-term uncertainty.

The resilience assessment in Tajikistan is focused on two rural villages (Kalay Nav and Kukobolukh) in the Roghun District east of the capital Dushanbe, in the Vakhsh River Basin. The foothills of the low mountainous area offer unstable slopes for crops and landslides occur regularly. Unreliable water and electricity supplies in the villages along with the poor condition of infrastructure and ecosystem degradation contribute to the village’s vulnerability. A steadily growing population is stressing the natural resource system and a shock looms with the potential sudden return of more than half of Tajikistan’s workforce over the coming months in response to Russia’s declining economy.

Part of the resilience assessment process involved participatory workshops with village members. The workshop activities stimulated thinking about water availability issues in the villages in the context of dynamic change, taking into account past adaptations, and considering ways to increase their capacity and options for coping with future uncertainty. Village members who participated in these workshops were really engaged and the workshops yielded valuable insights. More information about the assessment will be available in the coming weeks on the RA website.