The aim of “Resilience, Innovation and Sustainability: Navigating the Complexities of Global Change” is to advance understanding of the relationships among resilience, vulnerability, innovation and sustainability. It will do so by bringing together scientists to share their work on the dynamics of interconnected social-ecological systems. Conference attendees will include people from the government, business, NGOs and academic sectors concerned with resource governance, and economic and social development . A key outcome of conference discussions will be the development and refinement of new ideas for meeting the challenge of global change.
Human societies are an integral part of the biosphere and, as the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment suggests, are dependent on the capacity of the living environment to provide essential ecosystem services to sustain social development. At the same time, human activity has expanded to such a degree as to now constitute a global, interdependent society that shapes the biosphere at multiple temporal and spatial scales as reflected by climate change, vulnerability in global economic and financial systems and resource degradation across the globe. How can prosperous societal development paths be stimulated in light of these challenges?
Sustainability is a guiding principle in the search for such development paths. Resilience and innovation are important tools to successfully navigate them. Research on resilience – the capacity to deal with change and continue to develop – has evolved as we progressively understand the complexity of interconnected social and ecological systems. Increasingly, we realize that social and ecological systems exhibit strong non-linearities and are prone to dramatic changes. Innovation is a key element in our capacity to cope with these changes.
Interest in resilience, innovation and sustainability is growing rapidly in science and policy circles. New knowledge in these domains has major local-to-global implications for a range of issues including social and economic development and security. Research on actors, networks, multilevel institutions and organizations with the ability to respond to ecosystem feedbacks, sustain and enhance flows of ecosystem services is expanding. Knowledge integration that crosses boundaries between the natural and social sciences, between sciences and humanities and between culture groups will contribute significantly to improving policy to cope with global change. Resilience 2011 seeks to promote such knowledge integration and builds on the highly successful Resilience 2008 conference held in Stockholm last year, organized by the Stockholm Resilience Center. The School of Sustainability, the Global Institute of Sustainability and the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at ASU have agreed to host Resilience 2011 on the ASU campus. We ask you to hold the date for this major international conference, at which we expect colleagues from a wide range of disciplines and all parts of the world.