WPC Dialogues: Sydney, Australia 2014
WPC Dialogues: Sydney, Australia 2014: Day 7
Community-based Social and Ecological Resilience: Toward an Operational Framework
Sunday 16 November 2014
A group of 30 participants met to shed a better light on understanding resilience on the Group discussions revealed a range of preliminary definitions and key aspects of resilience, such as its preventive character and the necessity of strong local institutions. Resilient communities may either resist external pressures, or they are capable to adapt and transform when resistance is not possible.
Jamison Ervin, Senior Advisor at UNDP gave an overview over emerging principles of ecological and social resilience. Her presentation showed that both intact ecosystems and healthy communities are indispensable to achieve resilience needed to withstand external pressures or shocks such as natural disasters or political conflict.
Pernilla Malmer from the Stockholm Resilience Center gave the example of a Somali pastoralist, who had come to Sweden as a refugee. He now works on a Swedish farm, using the knowledge he learned in Somalia. She depicted this as “an example of how people can transform and adapt, and embrace diversity through resilience”. In this way, resilience can also be understood as the ability to understand negative external threats.
Several community participants then presented their examples of resilient communities. Leonardo Rosario from Trowel Development Foundation, an Equator Prize 2010 winner from the Philippines, explained how his community of crab growers kept mangrove forests intact as a first layer of protection against typhoons. The real innovation, however, was to raise crabs by tying them individually to bamboo poles. After a storm, recovering the poles means saving the crabs.
Mariama Ashcroft, representative of TRY Oysters in the Gambia, an Equator Prize 201 winner, presented how oyster harvesting women improved their livelihoods by adding value to their product instead of selling only the raw oysters. This has also enabled them to protect the mangrove forests in their harvesting area. TRY also empowered women during the eight months of the year when oysters are not harvesting by teaching them skills they can employ for other income-generating activities.
Karau Kuna from Equator Prize 2014 winner Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program in Papua New Guinea, stressed the necessity of identifying threats to livelihoods and surrounding environments to create potential solutions: “Basically, if you have healthy people, the forest will be healthy, too.”
Million Belay shared an account of his community, where children are regularly taken to the forest for five days by the elders, to understand and connect with their environment. Building this traditional knowledge is crucial to both providing future generations with local tools to master external pressures, and to revive the collective memory of the community.
Diana Salvemini from UNDP introduced a landscapes and community based resilience project as part of the Japanese Government’s Satoyama Initiative. As part of this program, a set of resilience indicators on the landscape level was identified. She stressed the importance of participatory planning processes to form social capital on the ground and foster social cohesion.