Professor Brian Walker: the evolution of resilience

Doctor Brian Walker held on Tuesday 29 May 2007 the semiar "Evolution of Resilience — In Theory, and in Social-Ecological Systems".

Special Inauguration Seminar for the Stockholm Resilience Centre: 'Evolution' is used here in two ways. First, Walker will consider the current status of resilience theory and where it might be heading, in the sense that it is evolving under the selec-tion pressures of research and application.

And second, as one area of development, he will discuss whether changes in social-ecological systems better reflect a gradual or a punctuated equilibrium view of evolutionary development. Current resilience theory has four basic tenets:

Social-ecological systems

i) are self-organising with centripetal dynamics,

ii) have multiple stability domains,

iii) change over time through four phases of an adaptive cycle, and

iv) function at multiple scales with critical cross-scale (panarchy) effects.

Theory development is being shaped by the interplay between theoretical research and its application to resource use issues. It involves questions relating to critical transitions and how to identify them; multiple, interacting thresholds; “evolution" vs. “equilibrium" in system dynamics; governance and the evolution of rules, to name some.

Issues driving application of resilience (feeding back to theory) include climate change, globalisation, how to approach ‘development´ in regions of worsening human wellbeing, and others; all of which call for guidelines on how to do a resilience assessment.

About Brian Walker
Brian Walker is Science Program Director of the Resilience Alliance and an Honorary Fellow in CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Australia, where he was Chief of the Division of Wildlife and Ecology for 15 years.

Born in Zimbabwe, he had his tertiary education in South Africa and Canada, was a Charles Bullard Fellow at Harvard, lectured at the University of Zimbabwe and was Professor of Botany and Director of the Centre for Resource Ecology at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering and a Foreign Member of the Swedish Academy of Forestry and Agriculture.

Stockholm Resilience Centre is a collaboration between Stockholm University and the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Stockholm Resilience Centre
Stockholm University, Kräftriket 2B
Phone: +46 8 674 70 70

Organisation number: 202100-3062
VAT No: SE202100306201