Resilience & Transformation
Research Group Leaders: Reinette (Oonsie) Biggs , Rika Preiser and Laura Pereira
Social-ecological resilience is a rapidly emerging research area globally, and better understanding of social-ecological systems (SES) and resilience is being demanded by policy and governance processes at national and international levels. However, theoretical conceptualization of this area and methodological approaches for researching SES are still relatively underdeveloped, and much of the empirical work to date has been carried out in developed countries, where the issues and contexts often differ dramatically from those in the developing world. This theme aims to contribute to addressing these gaps, specifically contributing a Southern African perspective, and advancing understanding of critical ecosystem services that underpin the well-being of different societal groups, and how social-ecological systems and the ecosystem services they produce can be managed to build resilience and support transitions in complex, interconnected social-ecological systems.
The Western Cape water and food systems provide ideal case studies for investigating this theme. The Western Cape catchments are embedded in social-ecological systems and deliver critical water, food and other ecosystem services to a wide range of agricultural and urban stakeholders. These catchments are, however, under substantial pressure with major socio-economic and ecological implications for the future development of the region, which is characterized by rapid urbanization and an expanding middle class.