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Learning for resilience?: Exploring learning opportunities in Biosphere Reserves
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Systems Ecology. (Natural Resource Management)
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
2010 (English)In: Environmental Education Research, ISSN 1350-4622, E-ISSN 1469-5871, Vol. 16, no 5-6, 645-663 p.Article in journal (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.)) Published
Abstract [en]


The interdependence of society and nature, the inherent complexity of social-ecological systems, and the global deterioration of ecosystem services provide the rationale for a growing body of literature focusing on social-ecological resilience - the capacity to cope with, adapt to and shape change - for sustainable development. Processes of learning-by-doing and multiple-loop social learning across knowledge systems and different levels of decision-making are envisioned to strengthen this capacity, combined in the concept of adaptive governance. This study explores how learning for resilience is stimulated in practice; investigating learning opportunities provided in UNESCO-designated biosphere reserves (BRs). A global survey (N = 148) and qualitative interviews with key informants of selected BRs (N = 10) reveal that a subset (79) of the BRs serve as 'potential learning sites' and: (1) provide platforms for mutual and collective learning through face-to-face interactions; (2) coordinate and support the generation of new social-ecological knowledge through research, monitoring and experimentation; and (3) frame information and education to local stewards, resource-based businesses, policy-makers, disadvantaged groups, students and the public. We identify three BRs that seem to combine, in practice, the theoretically parallel research areas of environmental education and adaptive governance. We conclude that BRs have the potential to provide insights on the practical dimension of nurturing learning for social-ecological resilience. However, for their full potential as learning sites for sustainability to be realized, both capacity and incentives for evaluation and communication of lessons learned need to be strengthened.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 16, no 5-6, 645-663 p.
Keyword [en]
learning, adaptive governance, sustainable development, biodiversity conservation, knowledge, environmental education
National Category
Natural Sciences Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-27523DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2010.505442OAI: diva2:214576
2Available from: 2009-05-06 Created: 2009-05-06 Last updated: 2011-02-21Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Nurturing resilience in social-ecological systems: Lessons learned from bridging organizations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Nurturing resilience in social-ecological systems: Lessons learned from bridging organizations
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In an increasingly complex, rapidly changing world, the capacity to cope with, adapt to, and shape change is vital. This thesis investigates how natural resource management can be organized and practiced to nurture this capacity, referred to as resilience, in social-ecological systems. Based on case studies and large-N data sets from UNESCO Biosphere Reserves (BRs) and the UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), it analyzes actors and social processes involved in adaptive co-management on the ground. Papers I & II use Kristianstads Vattenrike BR to analyze the roles of local stewards and bridging organizations. Here, local stewards, e.g. farmers and bird watchers, provide on-site management, detailed, long-term monitoring, and local ecological knowledge, build public support for ecosystem management, and hold unique links to specialized networks. A bridging organization strengthens their initiatives. Building and drawing on multi-level networks, it gathers different types of ecological knowledge, builds moral, political, legal and financial support from institutions and organizations, and identifies windows of opportunity for projects. Paper III synthesizes the MA community-based assessments and points to the importance of bridging organizations, leadership and vision, knowledge networks, institutions nested across scales, enabling policies, and high motivation among actors for adaptive co-management. Paper IV explores learning processes catalyzed by bridging organizations in BRs. 79 of the 148 BRs analyzed bridge local and scientific knowledge in efforts to conserve biodiversity and foster sustainable development, provide learning platforms, support knowledge generation (research, monitoring and experimentation), and frame information and education to target groups. Paper V tests the effects of participation and adaptive co-management in BRs. Local participation is positively linked to local support, successful integration of conservation and development, and effectiveness in achieving developmental goals. Participation of scientists is linked to effectiveness in achieving ‘conventional’ conservation goals and policy-makers enhance the integration of conservation and development. Adaptive co-management, found in 46 BRs, is positively linked to self-evaluated effectiveness in achieving developmental goals, but not at the expense of conservation. The thesis concludes that adaptive collaboration and learning processes can nurture resilience in social-ecological systems. Such processes often need to be catalyzed, supported and protected to survive. Therefore, bridging organizations are crucial in adaptive co-management.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Systems Ecology, Stockholm University, 2009. 50 p.
adaptive co-management, social-ecological resilience, local stewards, bridging organizations, learning, participation, Kristianstads Vattenrike, Biosphere Reserves, sustainable development, biodiversity conservation, ecosystem management
National Category
Natural Sciences
Research subject
Natural Resources Management
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-27503 (URN)978-91-7155-892-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2009-06-04, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 8 A, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2009-05-14 Created: 2009-05-05 Last updated: 2009-06-09Bibliographically approved

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