In 2014, the Third International Conference on the resilience of social-ecological systems chose the theme “resilience and development: mobilizing for transformation.” The conference aimed specifically at fostering an encounter between the experiences and thinking focused on the issue of resilience through a social and ecological system perspective, and the experiences focused on the issue of resilience through a development perspective.
In this perspectives piece, we reflect on the outcomes of the meeting and document the differences and similarities between the two perspectives as discussed during the conference, and identify bridging questions designed to guide future interactions. After the conference, we read the documents (abstracts, PowerPoints) that were prepared and left in the conference database by the participants (about 600 contributions), and searched the web for associated items, such as videos, blogs, and tweets from the conference participants. All of these documents were assessed through one lens: what do they say about resilience and development? Once the perspectives were established, we examined different themes that were significantly addressed during the conference.
Our analysis paves the way for new collective developments on a set of issues: (1) Who declares/assign/cares for the resilience of what, of whom? (2) What are the models of transformations and how do they combine the respective role of agency and structure? (3) What are the combinations of measurement and assessment processes? (4) At what scale should resilience be studied? Social transformations and scientific approaches are coconstructed. For the last decades, development has been conceived as a modernization process supported by scientific rationality and technical expertise. The definition of a new perspective on development goes with a negotiation on a new scientific approach. Resilience is presently at the center of this negotiation on a new science for development.
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