Global Challenges, Governance, and Complexity
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Global Challenges, Governance, and Complexity

Applications and Frontiers

Edited by Victor Galaz

There is an increased interest in integrating insights from the complexity sciences to studies of governance and policy. While the issue has been debated, and the term of ‘complexity’ has multiple and sometimes contested interpretations, it is also clear the field has spurred a number of interesting theoretical and empirical efforts. The book includes key thinkers in the field, elaborates on different analytical approaches in studying governance, institutions and policy in the face of complexity, and showcases empirical applications and insights.
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Chapter 2: Governing for emergence in social–ecological systems

Carl Folke


New ways of capturing the turbulent dynamics of the Anthropocene are needed. Complex adaptive systems and resilience thinking are the focus of this chapter. The properties of complex adaptive systems change because of the continuous interplay between the adaptive responses of the parts (or agents) and the emergent properties of the whole. Resilience thinking emphasizes living with complexity and uncertainty in intertwined systems of people and nature, i.e. social-ecological systems, and how to shape the context by continuously learning from and navigating dynamic change. Combined, they represent managing for emergence in the face of uncertainty and abrupt change. Twelve dynamic processes in managing for emergence are proposed. Case studies on the emergence of adaptive and transformative governance are compared. They reflect the dynamic interplay among agents, social networks, bridging organisations, and institutions, subject to crisis and windows-of-opportunity, in shifting human actions towards systemic biosphere stewardship.

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