Resilience 2014 seeks to explore multiple perspectives on social and ecological change and the multiple links between resilience thinking and development issues.  Reports by major development players are using resilience and social and ecological system frameworks as key concepts to guide and shape strategies on issues such as biodiversity conservation, urban growth, human security, and well-being. Additionally the conference will explore relationships between different scientific approaches to social and ecological change. Ecosystem management, planning and development are all being approached by diverse research fields, many of which are pursuing concepts that resonate with a resilience approach.

To complement the vision of the conference “Resilience and Development: Mobilizing for Transformation”, the conference themes are presented below.

Development challenges through a resilience lens

Papers and panels in this theme will explore the relevance of resilience thinking to understanding and solving some of the major development challenges of today. These challenges may include global issues, such as energy security, feeding 9 billion people while staying within planetary boundaries, urban development, climate change and technological controversies such as nuclear power, biofuels and GMOs. Of particular interest are papers that can bring new insights into how resilience approaches can mobilize positive transformational change in places where these global issues ‘land on the ground’ and at a pace that can keep up with our rapidly changing world.

Trade-offs and synergies

Papers and panels in this theme will explore trade-offs as well as the potential for synergies related to governance of social-ecological systems. In complex systems, win-win arrangements are laudable yet elusive. Wise decision making mostly necessitates trade-offs, e.g. between ecosystem services, between the needs and aspirations of different stakeholders and sectors, between short term gains for people and long term benefits to the planet, and between resource exploitation and preservation. Just and fair decision making hinges on our ability to make informed trade-offs at the interface of social ecological systems that may affect ecological processes, benefit sharing, equitability, and empowerment.

Analyzing and promoting change and transformation

Papers and panels in this theme will explore the different types of changes in social-ecological systems, from passive adaptation to pro-active transformation. Usually presented as the two extremes of a continuum, these types of change often coincide, and are articulated at different scales and in different networks (does a transformation at a certain scale require an adaptation at another?). In related scientific communities, the discourse rather focuses on the idea of different types of transitions.  Resilience itself can be a problem – for example poverty is highly resistant and intransigent – and the challenge in some cases may be to break down the resilience. Papers and panels may explore the social and ecological processes leading to desired resilience or to the need for transformation.


Papers and panels in this theme will explore the creation and use of different kinds of knowledge in resilience thinking and practice. Papers and panels that include non-academics as authors and participants are especially encouraged. Of special interest are different ways in which social, biophysical, and interdisciplinary scholars and practitioners frame, learn and use resilience; the ethical implications of resilience thinking and practice under varying circumstances; the hybridization of several types of knowledge; as well as philosophical and epistemological analyses of the myriad kinds of resilience thinking and practice.

Whose development, whose resilience?

Papers and panels in this theme will emphasize the politics of resilience. This theme seeks to highlight the contributions of social science and humanities perspectives on the power relations implicit in adaptive management. Of special interest are historical, cultural, and political-economic approaches that illuminate the social as much as the ecological processes driving human-environmental change. Papers and panels may explore how power and social relations define the meaning of desirable states, regime shifts and transformation, and their influence on development policy and outcomes. Political ecological interpretations of social-ecological resilience that address problem framing, environment-development discourses and narratives, situated knowledge, democratic representation, and social-ecological justice are especially welcome.

New methodology and tools

This theme invites papers and panels that apply and combine novel approaches, methodologies and tools to analyze resilience in social ecological systems. Such tools include new ways of engaging citizens in co-design and co-production of knowledge, using new forms of information technologies, various approaches to modeling, and a wide range of participatory and collaborative research methods. Within the fields of economy and psychology new approaches and methods are developed to understand behavioral and rationality issues. Frameworks and methods are proposed and tested for ecosystems resilience assessment. Papers and panels in this theme should reflect on how these new approaches, methodologies and tools inform the broad theme of the conference and how they help to integrate resilience and development approaches.