Ecology and Society Ecology and Society
E&S Home > Vol. 26, Iss. 2 > Art. 1 > Abstract Open Access Publishing 
Harnessing the potential of vulnerability assessments for managing social-ecological systems

Lauric Thiault, National Center for Scientific Research, PSL Université Paris, CRIOBE, USR 3278 CNRS-EPHE-UPVD, Maison des Océans, Paris, France; Laboratoire d'Excellence CORAIL, Moorea, French Polynesia; Moana Ecologic, Rocbaron, France
Stacy D. Jupiter, Wildlife Conservation Society, Melanesia Program, Suva, Fiji
Johanna E. Johnson, C2O Coasts Climate Oceans, Vanuatu & Cairns, Australia; College of Marine & Environmental Sciences, James Cook University, Cairns, QLD Australia
Joshua E. Cinner, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD Australia
Rebecca M. Jarvis, Te Kura Pūtaiao - School of Science, Te Wānanga Aronui o Tāmaki Makau Rau - Auckland University of Technology, Tāmaki Makaurau - Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand
Scott F. Heron, Physics and Marine Geophysical Laboratory, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD, Australia; Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD Australia
Joseph M. Maina, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Nadine A. Marshall, CSIRO Land and Water, James Cook University, Townsville, QLD, Australia
Paul A. Marshall, Centre for Tropical Water and Aquatic Ecosystem Research, James Cook University, Australia; Environment Department, NEOM, Saudi Arabia
Joachim Claudet, National Center for Scientific Research, PSL Université Paris, CRIOBE, USR 3278 CNRS-EPHE-UPVD, Maison des Océans, Paris, France; Laboratoire d'Excellence CORAIL, Moorea, French Polynesia

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-12167-260201

Full Text: HTML   
Download Citation


Abstract

The concept of vulnerability has broadened from initial applications in the fields of risk and hazards, human ecology and resilience to include the management of social-ecological systems (SES). We review how this concept has been operationalized in various contexts and identify opportunities and challenges to apply vulnerability assessments to SES management in the face of social, environmental, and climatic changes. We synthesize these lessons into a 12-step framework to help practitioners scope, design, operationalize, and implement vulnerability assessments that can effectively minimize exposure, reduce sensitivity, and enhance adaptive capacity. We describe the rationale, assumptions, and implications that underlie each step and highlight future directions that are critically needed to further enable vulnerability assessments to address real-world sustainability challenges. These include applying biocultural approaches, building knowledge about SES vulnerability to nonclimate stressors, and anticipating potential trade-offs and maladaptation. The framework presented provides a roadmap for the development of integrated vulnerability assessments that are robust, context-specific, and relevant to the management of SES.

Key words

conservation planning; environmental management; risk; social-ecological systems; sustainability; vulnerability

Copyright © 2021 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Top
Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087