Governance and People

People are an integral part of social-ecological systems. How governance happens, i.e. its structure and function, has both direct and indirect effects on the long-term sustainability and resilience of these systems. Adaptive governance expands the focus from adaptive management of ecosystems to address the broader social contexts that enable ecosystem-based management.

Working Groups

Collaborative Governance and Management Working Group, a PECS working group. This working group has a two-pronged mission. The first goal is to see how collaborative practices are implemented and work (or not) toward ecosystem stewardship and improved human well-being at multiple locations around the globe. A multi-scale assessment of collaborative governance and management will be carried out across as many contexts as possible, but at a minimum South Africa, Australia, United States, Sweden and Canada, lead by research teams located in each of these countries. The second goal is to work toward improving outcomes through advancing knowledge along this theory-praxis interface, seeking grounded theory that is capable of influencing and strengthening practice in specific places, and building the state of science with regard to collaboration in ecosystem stewardship more generally.


Migration and global environmental change. This project examines how profound changes in environmental conditions such as flooding, drought and rising sea levels will influence and interact with patterns of global human migration over the next 50 years. Neil Adger (Member of the Lead Expert Group and author of the UK Foresight report, Migration and Global Environmental Change).

Climate Change, Hydro-Conflicts and Human Security (CLICO). The CLICO project seeks to better understand the links between climate, water, violence, conflict and human security. The project mobilized 14 research teams and brought together for the first time some of the world's leading researchers in water resource, vulnerability, and peace and security studies. Eleven cases of areas where droughts or floods pose threats to human security were studied ranging from Niger, Sudan, the Jordan and Nile basins to Cyprus, Italy and the Sinai desert. A large dataset - the first of its kind - of domestic hydro-conflicts in the Mediterranean, Middle East and Sahel was regressed against climatic, hydrological and socio-economic variables. The resilience of international treaties in the region to deal with climatic variability was assessed and national and international policies were evaluated. (Neil Adger)

Strengthening Resilience in Volcanic Areas (STREVA). STREVA is an innovative interdisciplinary project that aims to reduce the negative consequences of volcanic activity on people and assets. The project works collaboratively across different disciplines to develop and apply a practical and adaptable volcanic risk assessment framework. (Neil Adger)

The Human Resilience to Climate Change and Disasters Working Group. The project will examine human resilience to climate change and weather-related disasters. It will focus on the role of nature in increasing human resilience to extreme weather and climate change, but will also consider other adaptation and risk reduction methods. (Katrina Brown)

Multi-scale Adaptations to Global Change, Impacts on vulnerability in coastal areas (MAGIC). Belmont Forum funded project to assess adaptations and perceptions of risk and vulnerability in coastal areas. Christo Fabricius (project leader), Marty Anderies, Olivier Barreteau, Katrina Brown, Francois Bousquet, Raphael Mathevet.

Selected Publications

Arnold, C.A. and L. H. Gunderson. 2013. Adaptive Law and Resilience. Environmental Law Review. Environmental Law Institute, Washington DC.

Basurto, X. 2013. Linking Multi-level Governance to Local Common-pool Resource Theory using Fuzzy Set Qualitative Comparative Analysis: Insights from twenty years of biodiversity conservation in Costa Rica. Global Environmental Change 223(3):573-587

Bodin, Ö. and B.I. Crona. 2009. The role of social networks in natural resource governance: What relational patterns make a difference?Global Environmental Change 19(3):366-374.

Cosens, B., L. Gunderson, C. Allen, and M.H. Benson. 2014. Identifying Legal, Ecological and Governance Obstacles and Opportunities for Adapting to Climate Change. Sustainability 6, 2338-2356.

Cundill, G., Shackleton, S., Sisitka, L., Ntshudu, M., Lotz-Sisitka, H., Kulundu, I., Hamer, N. 2014. Social learning for adaptation: a descriptive handbook for practitioners and action researchers. IDRC/Rhodes University/Ruliv.

Folke, C. et al. (2005) Adaptive governance of social-ecological systems. Annu. Rev. Environ. Res. 30, 441-473.

Kofinas, G., D. Clark, G. K. Hovelsrud, L. Alessa, H. Amundsen, M. Berman, F. Berkes, F. S. Chapin III, B. Forbes, J. Ford, C. Gerlach, and J. Olsen. 2013. Adaptive and Transformative Capacity. In Arctic Council. Arctic Resilience Interim Report. Stockholm Environment Institute and Stockholm Resilience Centre. Stockholm. pp. 71-91.

Schoon, M. 2013. Governance in Transboundary Conservation: How Institutional Structure and Path Dependence Matter. Conservation & Society 11:420-428.;year=2013;volume=11;issue=4;spage=420;epage=428;aulast=Schoon

Keywords: adaptive governance, collaborative governance, adaptive co-management, social learning, institutions, governance, vulnerability, adaptive capacity