Understanding Vulnerability from a Social-Ecological System Perspective to Enhance Resilience for Ecosystem-Based Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction: Finding a Path of Acceptance

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 18:50
Oral Presentation
Liette VASSEUR, Brock University, Canada
Mike JONES, Swedish Biodiversity Centre, Sweden
Angela ANDRADE, Commission on Ecosystem Management, IUCN, Colombia
Historically communities across the world have had to deal with environmental and climatic changes. Over centuries, people have adjusted to changing conditions and learned to do so by modifying infrastructure, landscapes or their behaviour. Recent population growth, sedentary lifestyles, and changes in socioeconomic activities have reduced the flexibility of communities to changing conditions. This is especially true considering the rapid changes due to anthropogenic pressures on ecosystems. Extreme weather events have exacerbated the challenges of adapting to new conditions and have increased the level of vulnerabilities of communities. Community vulnerability is difficult to understand due to the complexity that arises from the interplay between political, economic, social, and cultural factors, as well as the biophysical environment. These interactions affect governance, equity, power and poverty all of which may increase community vulnerability. Assessing vulnerability is a fundamental step to defining solutions that enhance community resilience and capacity to adapt to environmental change. A social-ecological system assessment is an approach to enhancing community resilience that integrates ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) and eco-disaster risk reduction (Eco-DRR) to offer a valuable yet under-utilized approach for climate change adaptation that complements traditional actions such as infrastructure development. EbA uses biodiversity and ecosystem services as part of an overall adaptation strategy to help communities adapt to climate change at local, national, regional or global levels. EbA with Eco-DRR represent a promising approach to integrate issues such as vulnerability, human wellbeing, ecosystem health and resilience using a social-ecological system assessment frame to provide a more holistic view. Appropriately designed these initiatives can also contribute to climate change mitigation by reducing emissions from ecosystem loss and degradation, and enhancing carbon sequestration. In this talk, we use two case studies to examine how use of this this integrated framework, enables communities to move effectively towards a more sustainable future.