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A person is standing on land looking at the sun against an Arctic environment that is melting.

“Advanced Introduction to Resilience”: a concise overview of resilience in the context of unprecedented global environmental change

Dr. Fikret Berkes, Distinguished Professor Emeritus from the Natural Resources Institute, Clayton H. Riddell Faculty of Environment, Earth, and Resources, has recently published a book that explores ecological resilience, with an innovative discussion toward planning for an increasingly unpredictable future.

April 30, 2024 — 

Advanced Introduction to Resilience is a book that addresses the concept of resilience through the two-way relationships between people and nature. It explores resilience using a transdisciplinary approach that incorporates social science concepts, and highlights innovative ways of planning for an increasingly unpredictable world. Resilience has key applications in the areas of climate change, development studies, and natural resource and disaster management.

Defining ‘Resilience’

The term resilience has many definitions, including those for psychological resilience and engineering resilience. Advanced Introduction to Resilience treats it as a systems concept, informally defined as “the capacity of a system to deal with perturbations” or “the ability to persist and adapt”, or even “the ability to successfully deal with change”. Maintaining diversity is one of the ways to build resilience. For example, biodiversity can provide resilience in the face of climate change, as illustrated by the example of Potato Park (Parque de la Papa) in Peru.

The Park is home to eight known wild and cultivated potato species, and some 1,300 varieties. It is located near the center of the domestication of potatoes and therefore at the center of potato genetic diversity. The Park is an internationally recognized protected area and Biocultural Heritage site. It has high landscape heterogeneity and varieties adapted to a diversity of habitats. By conserving a high level of potato biodiversity, the Park provides “insurance” for potato farming everywhere.

Potatoes are grown all over the world, but only a limited handful of varieties are used in various localities, including parts of Canada. This results in a high degree of vulnerability given the accelerating change in environmental conditions. The world will most likely need new potato genetic resources to modify the widely used varieties to enable them to adapt to deal with warmer or dryer conditions or new diseases.


A pile of potatoes of various size and color stands in Parque de la Papa, Peru.

A sample of potato biodiversity in Parque de la Papa, Peru, which serves as a source of potato genes and therefore resilience for the impacts of climate change on potato farming all over the world. Photo: Vanesa Ramos.

The book is of interest to students and academics in the area of environment and related disciples. One critical acclaim regards the book as “…a crucial ingredient of healthy environments, societies, and communities…” (Dr. Anthony Charles, Community Conservation Research Network based in Halifax). Another review characterizes the book as “…a brilliant synthesis of resilience scholarship. It provides a fresh perspective on ways that society can address its most urgent challenges despite prevailing uncertainties about the future” (Dr. F. Stuart Chapin III, University of Alaska).

Additional Information

Advanced Introduction to Resilience is published by Edward Elgar as part of the Elgar Advanced Introduction Series.

Dr. Berkes has published some 250 peer-reviewed papers, and is the author or editor of 14 books, including Sacred Ecology (Routledge, 2018) which has recently been translated into Chinese. At over 100,000 citations, he has the highest Google Scholar score at the University of Manitoba. His profile and list of publications are in:

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