This post is part of the Agriculture and Ecosystems Blog’s month-long series on Resilience.
Resilience thinking: why does it matter?
The CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF) officially drew to a close at the end of last month. One could easily forget that in 2009, CPWF redefined its objective “to increase the resilience of social and ecological systems through better water management for food production.” Why did it matter at that time, and why does it still matter today for water, food and ecosystems?
When considering the results from CPWF Phase 1 (2003-2008), the people and the ecosystems we had been working with in 10 river basins had almost the same characteristic: they were in a degraded state, in a way that often looked hardly reversible. We identified situations where social-ecological systems were “stuck” or trapped on undesirable, low-productive pathways, and explored what kind of interventions could enable transformations to better pathways. If we could not halt the factors contributing to agricultural land degradation, such as climate change, population growth, and migration, we could at least try to understand how resilient agricultural communities were and help “push” them to aresilient and more desirable state.