The aim of “Resilience, adaptation and transformation in turbulent times - preparing for change in social-ecological systems” is to bring together scientists working with the complex dynamics of interconnected social-ecological systems and to present, discuss, and if possible, summarise the current understanding of resilience, adaptability and pathways of transformation in such systems. Representatives from government, business and other major actors will be invited to discuss the challenges facing societal development, and together with scientists propose directions to go and pathways to avoid.
To explore this further and to complement and enhance the scientific symposium, we have initiated a collaboration with the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts and arrange a Resilience Art Exhibition in connection with the international science and policy conference. Deadline for submission of proposals was November 2, 2007.
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The Context
Human societies are parts of the dynamics of the biosphere and dependent on the capacity of the living environment to sustain development with essential ecosystem services as reflected in the findings of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. At the same time the scale and speed of human actions have expanded into a global interdependent society that shapes the biosphere at all scales, reflected in climate change, earth system science challenges and vulnerable regions. How can prosperous pathways of societal development be stimulated to emerge in the light of these challenges?

Research on resilience – the capacity to deal with change and continue to develop – has evolved as we progressively understand the complexity of interconnected social and ecological systems. Increasingly we realize that systems we once thought behaved in a linear and predictable manner, in fact are characterized by non-linearity, uncertainty, and prone to dramatic changes. How can we develop capacity to cope with, adapt to and possibly even transform into improved situations in the face of these changes? A deeper understanding of the resilience of interwoven and complex social-ecological systems undergoing change is essential in this context. The implications for current management and policy are challenging.

The interest in resilience, adaptation and transformation is growing fast in science and policy, with major implications for issues like social and economic development, livelihood and security from local to global scales. Research on actors, networks, multilevel institutions, organizations and systems of adaptive governance with the ability to respond to ecosystem feedbacks, sustain and enhance flows of freshwater, food and other ecosystem services is expanding. New interpretations of complex systems for economics and economic performance are emerging and the history of human social and cultural evolution is reassessed in the light of complexity and social-ecological systems. Social-ecological dynamics of landscapes and seascapes, the flexibility in social and economic affairs to deal with change, the ability to revive and regenerate following abrupt change and the potential for novelty and innovation are central issues that require a deeper understanding. The significance of knowledge integration crossing the boundaries of the natural and social sciences and the humanities is essential in this context, including knowledge that can integrate across temporal and spatial scales to understand dynamics, timing and drivers of change.

For more information on resilience, including further background reading see

For further information contact Christina Leijonhufvud,       Produced by and