Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Realizing resilience for decision-making

Abstract

Researchers and decision-makers lack a shared understanding of resilience, and practical applications in environmental resource management are rare. Here, we define social-ecological resilience as a property of social-ecological systems that includes at least three main characteristics — resistance, recovery and robustness (the ‘three Rs’). We define socio-economic resilience management as planning, adaptation and transformational actions that may influence these system characteristics. We integrate the three Rs into a heuristic for resilience management that we apply in multiple management contexts to offer practical, systematic guidance about how to realize resilience.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Possible effects of an adverse event on resistance, recovery and robustness.

References

  1. 1.

    Keim, M. E. Building human resilience: the role of public health preparedness and response as an adaptation to climate change. Am. J. Prev. Med. 35, 508–516 (2008).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Sheffi, Y. The Power of Resilience (MIT Press, 2015).

  3. 3.

    What is Resilience and how to Operationalise it? (OECD, accessed 28 June 2018); https://go.nature.com/31p85T2

  4. 4.

    Sustainable Development Goals (United Nations, accessed 15 October 2018); https://go.nature.com/2V9gDey

  5. 5.

    Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030 (United Nations, 2015).

  6. 6.

    Quinlan, A. E., Berbés‐Blázquez, M., Haider, L. J. & Peterson, G. D. Measuring and assessing resilience: broadening understanding through multiple disciplinary perspectives. J. Appl. Ecol. 53, 677–687 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Conway, G. R. Agroecosystems analysis. Agric. Admin. 20, 31–55 (1985).

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Holling, C. S. Resilience and stability of ecological systems. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst. 4, 1–23 (1973).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Pimm, S. L. The complexity and stability of ecosystems. Nature 307, 321–326 (1984).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Pimm, S. L. The Balance of Nature? Ecological Issues in the Conservation of Species and Communities (Univ. Chicago Press, 1991).

  11. 11.

    Levin, S. A. et al. Resilience in natural and socioeconomic systems. Environ. Dev. Econ. 3, 221–262 (1998).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Folke, C. et al. Resilience thinking: integrating resilience, adaptability and transformability. Ecol. Soc. 15, 20 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Bhamra, R., Dani, S. & Burnard, K. Resilience: the concept, a literature review and future directions. Int. J. Prod. Res. 49, 5375–5393 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Brand, F. S. & Jax, K. Focusing the meaning(s) of resilience: resilience as a descriptive concept and a boundary object. Ecol. Soc. 12, 23 (2007).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Hosseini, S., Barker, K. & Ramirez-Marquez, J. E. A review of definitions and measures of system resilience. Reliab. Eng. Syst. Safe. 145, 47–61 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    McNaughton, S. J. Diversity and stability of ecological communities: a comment on the role of empiricism in ecology. Am. Nat. 111, 515–525 (1977).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    Tilman, D. The ecological consequences of changes in biodiversity: a search for general principles. Ecology 80, 1455–1474 (1999).

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Carpenter, S., Walker, B., Anderies, J. M. & Abel, N. From metaphor to measurement: resilience of what to what? Ecosystems 4, 765–781 (2001).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19.

    Donohue, I. et al. Navigating the complexity of ecological stability. Ecol. Lett. 19, 1172–1185 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20.

    Downes, B. J., Miller, F., Barnett, J., Glaester, J. & Ellemor, H. How do we know about resilience? An analysis of empirical research on resilience, and implications for interdisciplinary praxis. Environ. Res. Lett. 8, 014041 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21.

    Southwick, S. M., Bonanno, G. A., Masten, A. S., Panter-Brick, C. & Yehuda, R. Resilience definitions, theory, and challenges: interdisciplinary perspectives. Eur. J. Psychotraumatol. 5, 25338 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22.

    Hashimoto, T., Stedinger, J. R. & Loucks, D. P. Reliability, resiliency, and vulnerability criteria for water resource system performance evaluation. Water Resour. Res. 18, 14–20 (1982).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23.

    Loreau, M. et al. in Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning: Synthesis and Perspectives (eds Loreau, M., Naeem, S. & Inchausti, P.) 79–91 (Oxford Univ. Press, 2002).

  24. 24.

    Westman, W. E. Measuring the inertia and resilience of ecosystems. BioScience 28, 705–710 (1978).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25.

    Cumming, G. S. & Collier, J. Change and identity in complex systems. Ecol. Soc. 10, 29 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26.

    Béné, C. & Doyen, L. From resistance to transformation: a generic metric of resilience through viability. Earth’s Future 6, 979–996 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27.

    Biggs, H. C. & Rogers, K. H. in The Kruger Experience: Ecology and Management of Savanna Heterogeneity (eds du Toit, J. T., Rogers, K. H. & Biggs, H. G.) 59–80 (Island Press, 2003).

  28. 28.

    Allen, C. R., Cumming, G. S., Garmestani, A. S., Taylor, P. D. & Walker, B. H. Managing for resilience. Wildl. Biol. 17, 337–349 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29.

    Biggs, R. et al. Toward principles for enhancing the resilience of ecosystem services. Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour. 37, 421–448 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30.

    Biggs, R., Schlüter, M. & Schoon, M. L. (eds) Principles for Building Resilience: Sustaining Ecosystem Services in Social-Ecological Systems (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2015).

  31. 31.

    Grafton, R. Q., Kompas, T. & Ha, P. V. Cod today and none tomorrow: the economic value of a marine reserve. Land Econ. 85, 454–469 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. 32.

    Harrison, G. W. Stability under environmental stress: resistance, resilience, persistence, and variability. Am. Nat. 113, 659–669 (1979).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. 33.

    Carlson, J. M. & Doyle, J. Complexity and robustness. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 99(Suppl. 1), 2538–2545 (2002).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. 34.

    Huizar, L. H., Lansey, K. E. & Arnold, R. G. Sustainability, robustness, and resilience metrics for water and other infrastructure systems. Sustain. Resil. Infrastruct. 3, 16–35 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. 35.

    Fowler, H. J., Kilsby, C. G. & O’Connell, P. E. Modeling the impacts of climatic change and variability on the reliability, resilience, and vulnerability of a water resource system. Water Resour. Res. 39, 1222 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. 36.

    McMahon, T. A., Adeloye, A. J. & Zhou, S.-L. Understanding performance measures of reservoirs. J. Hydrol. 324, 359–382 (2006).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. 37.

    Bruneau, M. et al. A framework to quantitatively assess and enhance the science the seismic resilience of communities. Earthq. Spectra 19, 733–752 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. 38.

    Ganin, A. A. et al. Operational resilience: concepts, design and analysis. Sci. Rep. 6, 19540 (2016).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  39. 39.

    Béné, C., Chaudhury, F. S., Rashid, M., Dhali, S. A. & Jahan, F. Squaring the circle: reconciling the need for rigor with the reality on the ground in resilience impact assessment. World Dev. 97, 212–231 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. 40.

    Walker, W. E. et al. Defining uncertainty: a conceptual basis for uncertainty management in model-based decision support. Integr. Assess. 4, 5–17 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. 41.

    Helfgott, A. Operationalising systemic resilience. Eur. J. Oper. Res. 268, 852–864 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. 42.

    Bender, E. A., Case, T. J. & Gilpin, M. E. Perturbation experiments in community ecology: theory and practice. Ecology 65, 1–13 (1984).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. 43.

    Scheffer, M. et al. Anticipating critical transitions. Science 338, 344–348 (2012).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  44. 44.

    David, P. A. Path dependence: a foundational concept for historical social science. Cliometrica 1, 91–114 (2007).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. 45.

    Cumming, G. S. Spatial Resilience in Social-Ecological Systems (Springer, 2011).

  46. 46.

    Martin, N., Forrester, J. & Ensor, J. What is equitable resilience? World Dev. 109, 197–205 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. 47.

    Li, C.-Z., Crépin, A.-S. & Folke, C. The economics of resilience. Int. Rev. Environ. Resour. Econ. 11, 309–353 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. 48.

    Walker, B. et al. Resilience management in social-ecological systems: a working hypothesis for a participatory approach. Conserv. Ecol. 6, 14 (2002).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. 49.

    Waltner-Toews, D. & Kay, D. The evolution of an ecosystem approach: the diamond schematic and an adaptive methodology for ecosystem sustainability and health. Ecol. Soc. 10, 38 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. 50.

    Ulrich, W. Critical heuristics of social systems design. Eur. J. Oper. Res. 31, 276–283 (1987).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  51. 51.

    Béné, C. et al. Testing resilience thinking in a poverty context: experience from the Niger River basin. Glob. Environ. Change 21, 1173–1184 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. 52.

    Shine, R. Why is sex determined by nest temperature in many reptiles? Trends Ecol. Evol. 14, 186–189 (1999).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  53. 53.

    Folke, C. et al. Regime shifts, resilience, and biodiversity in ecosystem management. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst. 35, 557–581 (2004).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. 54.

    Grafton, R. Q., Kompas, T. & Hilborn, R. W. Economics of overexploitation revisited. Science 318, 1601 (2007).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  55. 55.

    Wyrwoll, P. R. et al. Decision-making for systemic water risks: insights from a participatory risk assessment process in Vietnam. Earth’s Future 6, 543–564 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  56. 56.

    Döll, P. & Romero-Lankao, P. How to embrace uncertainty in participatory climate change risk management—a roadmap. Earth’s Future 5, 18–36 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. 57.

    Katic, P. & Grafton, R. Q. Optimal groundwater extraction under uncertainty: resilience versus economic payoffs. J. Hydrol. 406, 215–224 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  58. 58.

    Grafton, R. Q. & Little, L. R. Risks, resilience and natural resource management: lessons from selected findings. Nat. Resour. Model. 30, 91–111 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

The paper was originally conceived at the ninth thematic workshop of the French Association of Environmental and Resource Economist (FAERE) entitled ‘Ecological-Economic Resilience of Ecosystems’, organized by the Groupe de Recherche en Économie Théorique et Appliquée (GREThA) and held on 3–4 April 2018 at the University of Bordeaux. We are especially appreciative for the financial support of the research projects NAVIRE (Cluster of Excellence COTE, ANR-10-LABX-45) and ACROSS (ANR-14-CE03-0001) and the Hilda John Endowment. C.R. provided her contribution as part of the CGIAR Research Program Water, Land and Ecosystems. M. Loreau is acknowledged for providing comments on earlier versions of this paper.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

R.Q.G initiated and led the collaborative work, co-conceptualized the approach, co-developed the resilience heuristic, co-wrote and revised the text. L.D. co-conceptualized the approach, co-developed the resilience heuristic, co-wrote and revised the text. Alphabetically, C.B., G.S.C., S.D., A.H., P.K., L.R.L. and P.R.W., co-developed the resilience heuristic and co-wrote and revised the text. Alphabetically, E.B., K.B., J.D., D.G., Q.J., T.K., N.M., C.R., D.S., S.V., S.W., and J.W. co-wrote and revised the text. Authorship is alphabetical following R.Q.G. and L.D.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to R. Quentin Grafton.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Grafton, R.Q., Doyen, L., Béné, C. et al. Realizing resilience for decision-making. Nat Sustain 2, 907–913 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-019-0376-1

Download citation

Further reading

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing