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A resilience approach to the future Brian Walker.

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1 A resilience approach to the future Brian Walker

2 looming threats - climate change - peak oil, energy prices - food shortages and prices - water shortages and wars (Tibet / China) - new and old diseases, pandemics - social unrest /terrorism - increasing connectedness (globalisation, financial risk correlation) - increasing numbers of people with increasing aspirations

3 “Rising Above The Gathering Storm” (USA Academies 2008) - the need for investment in science and innovation

4 less and less room to manoeuvre more and more need for ability to absorb shocks – for resilience

5 Resilience “the ability of a system to absorb disturbance and re-organise so as to retain the same structure, function, feedbacks and identity”

6 resilience places an emphasis on the limits to change it puts a focus on thresholds (tipping points) between alternate states, or ‘regimes’, of a system


8 the water table rises as trees are cleared a threshold occurs at a depth of 2m

9 biophysical Water table depth Area salinized Riverine ecosystem condition Native veg cover and biodiversity economic Farm financial viability Size of dairy & fruit processing sectors Water infrastructure state social Values (e.g. environment vs. agriculture) – water allocations Farm/ landscapeLandscape/catchment Region/ nation Shocks and slow drivers climate change long run energy cost technology markets population (demand) diseases governance Tree cover and water table equilibrium (E/T) 9 thresholds in the Goulburn-Broken catchment

10 - the cost of maintaining resilience vs. the cost of not maintaining it resilience vs. efficiency - ‘specified’ (targeted) resilience, vs. ‘general’ resilience Applying a resilience approach - resilience is maintained by probing its boundaries

11 what determines resilience? - diversity - modularity - tightness of feedbacks - openness – immigration, inflows, outflows - reserves and other reservoirs (memory, seedbanks, nutrient pools) - overlapping governance/institutions

12 The Longford gas explosion in Shepparton: 25 million litres of milk poured away - no alternate power source for pasteurisation machinery (no “response diversity”)

13 “resilience” – “adaptability” – capacity to manage resilience; avoid thresholds (leadership, trust, ‘social capital’, governance)

14 if a shift into a “bad” state has happened, or is inevitable, the only option is transformation “transformability” - capacity to transform into a different kind of system; a new way of living, and making a living (the first rule of holes!)

15 determinants of transformability - preparedness to change - capacity to change - options for change

16 Where do we need to enhance resilience of existing systems? Where do we need to transform?

17 A resilience approach to the future - don’t aim for some “optimal” state - learn about thresholds and aim to avoid them - let the system self-organise within the range of acceptable states (‘command-and-control’ doesn’t work for very long) - maintain general resilience and embrace change - promote and sustain diversity, of all kinds - restrict control of environmental and ecological variability - be ready for and capable of transformational change - encourage learning, innovation and experiments - beware of partial solutions!

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