Reflections on building resilience – interactions among principles and implications for governance

Maja Schlüter, Reinette Biggs, Michael Schoon, Martin D. Robards, John Anderies

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Scopus citations


This book synthesizes and reviews the evidence in support of seven generic principles for enhancing the resilience of ecosystem services, i.e. the capacity of a social–ecological system to sustain a desired set of ecosystem services in the face of disturbance and ongoing change. Although some principles are better established than others, there is evidence that all are important. At the same time, none of the principles are universally beneficial, and all require a nuanced understanding of how, when and where they apply. Furthermore, the principles are often highly interdependent. Context matters and promoting the enhanced resilience of ecosystem services depends as much on how the individual principles are applied as on achieving an appropriate combination of principles. The nature of social–ecological systems as interdependent complex adaptive systems calls for governance and management that enhances aspects of a social–ecological system that help shape trajectories in desirable directions and enable adaptive responses to unexpected events. The principles are thus not final outcomes in themselves but rather features relevant for building resilience that should be considered when designing governance structures and management policies. More research is needed to better understand the individual principles, how they interact and how they can be operationalized and applied in different contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPrinciples for Building Resilience
Subtitle of host publicationSustaining Ecosystem Services in Social-Ecological Systems
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9781316014240
ISBN (Print)9781107082656
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
  • Environmental Science(all)


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