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Resilience 2014

Date: March 31, 2014

Resilience 2014 is the third international science and policy conference on the resilience of social & ecological systems

The concepts of Adaptation, Transformation and Development are central and common to several research communities, including Resilience in social and ecological systems, Ecological Economics, Environmental Change, Farming Systems (among others). Focusing on resilience – the capacity to deal with change and continue to develop – but firmly rooted in the belief that a diversity of approaches can inform each other, the conference will offer the opportunity to articulate and debate their specific paradigms, concepts and methodologies. Complex problems require a diversity of approaches that can inform each other, generate a constructive debate, and eventually lead to more suitable solutions. The term resilience is being used more widely in policy circles and policy debates, yet these meanings may be at odds with scientific interpretations of resilience that emphasize change and transformation. During this conference the diverse perspectives on resilience held by representatives from government, large international organizations, the business sector and other major actors from various countries will add to the academic debate on the challenges facing social development.

Resilience relates to ecological dynamics and governance questions related to specific resource systems (agroecosystems, fisheries, forests, rangelands, marine and freshwater ecosystems), and to global issues such as biodiversity conservation, urban growth, economic development, and human security and well-being.

Human societies are an integral part of the biosphere and sustainable social development depends on the continuous generation of essential ecosystem services.  Thus ecosystems change is often considered as one factor decreasing social and ecological resilience. Over the past century we have entered a new era where human activities have emerged as a main force shaping the biosphere from local to global scales, as reflected by climate change, vulnerability in the economic system, large losses of biodiversity, and irreversible changes in ecosystems.  This is also a time of unprecedented development challenges: intransigent poverty and inequality constitute a major threat to human welfare and to planetary sustainability. There is an increasing interest in the transformability of social ecological systems i.e., the capacity of society to change the system’s state variables when current trajectories become untenable. But a critical dilemma faces humankind: How can more equitable and beneficial social development paths be stimulated in light of these challenges?

Melissa Leach, Vice-Chair of the Future Earth Science Committee is a plenary speaker at this conference.