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The Political Aspects of Resilience

by Michael Fabinyi
Proceedings of the 11th International Coral Reef Symposium, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, 7–11 July 2008 Session number 21 ()


This study investigates the political aspects of resilience in social-ecological systems. Based on long-term anthropological fieldwork in the Calamianes Islands, Philippines, the study focuses on the diverse and contested human interests that make up social-ecological systems. In the Calamianes, what promotes the interests of one group of people may impact negatively for another group of people, or the ecosystem in which they live. Fishers, for example, have struggled greatly to preserve their patterns of marine resource use, and to oppose various forms of regulation that have been introduced. Following Armitage and Johnson (2006), this study has found that deciding ‘for what and for whom are we trying to promote resilience?’ becomes a critical question. Answering such a question will require decisions that will favour certain elements or resource users within any social-ecological system, and disadvantage others. The study concludes therefore that such political aspects of resilience thinking require greater attention, and that more attention could be paid to negotiations over tradeoffs among various stakeholders, if the resilience concept is to be more widely accepted in policy and management arenas.

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