Realizing resilience for decision-making


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.

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


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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

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.

Correspondence to R. Quentin Grafton.

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Grafton, R.Q., Doyen, L., Béné, C. et al. Realizing resilience for decision-making. Nat Sustain 2, 907–913 (2019).

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