Elinor Ostrom and Resilience

Illahee concluded our 2011 lecture series with Elinor Ostrom, Nobel Prize winner in Economic Sciences, last Wednesday evening (8/31). Ostrom highlighted her innovative work examining the governance of common-pool resources and protecting institutional diversity. Contrary to conventional theories, she found through her years of research that not only can a commons be well-governed, but the rules that help provide resource use efficiency also foster community and engagement.

To date, Ostrom’s work has examined existing social-ecological systems, of which many scientists fear may collapse by the end of the 21st century. But worrying their demise isn’t enough; we need to start developing strong methods for analyzing the complexities that make up our ecosystems and institutional arrangements. Although many policy makers may lead you to believe otherwise, there is no quick fix or one solution. We need to attack our problems with long-term, multi-tiered, interdisciplinary approaches.

That’s where resilience — the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure, identity, and feedbacks — comes into play. According to Ostrom, the key to resilience in social-ecological systems is biological and institutional diversity.

But how do you plan for resilience when demise is imminent? Many big thinkers and policy makers aren’t faced with the prospect of relocating the entire population of a disappearing island. Planning for the next 30 years, President Anote Tong of Kiribati is facing just that challenge and is not doing it silently. He is challenging the global community — especially the biggest polluters — to act, but faces the daunting task of preparing his citizens to relocate with dignity rather than as refugees.

Friday evening, Illahee is kicking off our 2012 Lecture Series: Sacred Cows with a pre-season event hosted by Ecotrust,  Resilience: An Operating System for the 21st Century? Resilience ecologist C.S. Buzz Holling, President Tong, and a panel of regional leaders from around the globe  will explore how the practice of resilience can create economic opportunity, social equity and environmental well-being in the times ahead.

The event is free to early subscribers to our 2012 Lecture Series: Sacred Cows (only a few seats remaining). Tickets for this individual event can also be purchased through Ecotrust.

Resilience: An Operating System for the 21st Century?

PNCA Swigert Commons| 1241 NW Johnson St

6pm Reception | 7pm  Panel Discussion

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