Reinette Biggs

Reinette Biggs
Stellenbosch University | SUN · Centre for Complex Systems in Transition

PhD

About

140
Publications
162,121
Reads
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20,853
Citations
Additional affiliations
February 2013 - present
Stellenbosch University
Position
  • Research Associate
September 2008 - present
Stockholm University
Position
  • Theme Leader: Regime Shifts in Social-Ecological Systems
July 2005 - August 2008
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Position
  • Research Assistant

Publications

Publications (140)
Article
Full-text available
Social-ecological systems (SES) research has emerged as an important area of sustainability science, informing and supporting pressing issues of transformation towards more sustainable, just and equitable futures. To date, much SES research has been done in or from the Global North, where the challenges and contexts for supporting sustainability tr...
Article
Full-text available
Transformation toward a sustainable future requires an earth stewardship approach to shift society from its current goal of increasing material wealth to a vision of sustaining built, natural, human, and social capital—equitably distributed across society, within and among nations. Widespread concern about earth’s current trajectory and support for...
Article
Anticipating, avoiding, and managing disruptive environmental change such as regime shifts and the impacts it has on human well-being is a key sustainability challenge. Woody encroachment is a globally important example of a regime shift that occurs in savanna systems, where a large fraction of the world's poor live. Woody encroachment is known to...
Article
In this paper, four relational heuristic responses for exploring new modes of engagement, or patterns of activity, that could enliven humanity's efforts in fostering systemic thinking and action to inform sustainability transitions are offered. Their purpose is to realise more resilient and just Anthropocene futures. These relational heuristics are...
Chapter
Full-text available
Scenarios and participatory scenario planning, futures wheels, three horizons framework, design/experiential futures, horizon scanning, Delphi, trend impact analysis, emerging issues analysis, causal layered analysis, appreciative inquiry, gaming (also known as ‘gamification’ or serious gaming), future workshops, visioning, back-casting, road-mappi...
Chapter
Full-text available
Key methods discussed in this chapter Double uncertainty matrix, Mānoa, scenario archetypes, La Prospective, causal layered analysis
Book
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The Routledge Handbook of Research Methods for Social-Ecological Systems provides a synthetic guide to the range of methods that can be employed in social-ecological systems (SES) research. The book is primarily targeted at graduate students, lecturers and researchers working on SES, and has been written in a style that is accessible to readers en...
Article
Full-text available
There is increasing interest in the potential of private land conservation areas (PLCAs) as a complementary biodiversity conservation strategy to state-owned protected areas. However, there is limited understanding of how the diverse social-ecological contexts of PLCAs influence their effectiveness in conserving biodiversity. Here, we investigated...
Article
Different regions, with different contexts and values, will follow different sustainability transformation pathways, giving rise to tensions and opportunities as the outcomes of regional pathways interact. To navigate these changes, we need a better understanding of how regional pathways interact to produce outcomes for people and nature. Different...
Article
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Global Environmental Assessments (GEAs) are in a unique position to influence environmental decision-making in the context of sustainability challenges. To do this effectively, however, new methods are needed to respond to the needs of decision-makers for a more integrated, contextualized and goal-seeking evaluation of different policies, geared fo...
Article
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Global environmental change challenges humanity because of its broad scale, long-lasting, and potentially irreversible consequences. Key to an effective response is to use an appropriate scientific lens to peer through the mist of uncertainty that threatens timely and appropriate decisions surrounding these complex issues. Identifying such corridor...
Article
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There has been a call for more participatory processes to feed into urban planning for more resilient food systems. This paper describes a process of knowledge co-production for transforming towards an alternative food system in Cape Town, South Africa. A ‘transformative space’ was created though a T-Lab process involving change-agents advocating f...
Article
Conserving biodiversity in the long term will depend in part on the capacity of Protected Areas (PAs) to cope with cross-scale, social-ecological disturbances and changes, which are becoming more frequent in a highly connected world. Direct threats to biodiversity within PAs and their interactions with broader-scale threats are both likely to vary...
Article
Full-text available
Non-technical summary We interviewed grassroots food innovators in South Africa to explore the diverse ways in which their narratives expressed different capacities for resilience, such as dealing with surprise and shaping desirable change. We drew on key resilience themes of rootedness, resourcefulness and resistance (the 3Rs) as lenses through wh...
Article
Full-text available
Private land conservation areas (PLCAs) are increasingly looked to for meeting the deficit left by state-owned protected areas in reaching global conservation targets. However, despite the increasing extent and recognition of PLCAs as a complementary conservation strategy, little research has been done to quantify their effectiveness; a critical co...
Article
Full-text available
Private land conservation areas (PLCAs) have become critical for achieving global conservation goals, but we lack understanding of how and when these areas respond to global pressures and opportunities. In southern Africa, where many PLCAs rely on trophy hunting as an income‐generating strategy, a potential ban on trophy hunting locally or abroad h...
Article
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Scenario development helps people think about a broad variety of possible futures; however, the global environmental change community has thus far developed few positive scenarios for the future of the planet and humanity. Those that have been developed tend to focus on the role of a few common, large-scale external drivers, such as technology or e...
Article
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Roughly eight hundred million youth are projected to enter the African job market by 2050. This presents both an opportunity and a challenge for urgently needed sustainability transitions on the continent, because with appropriate training and skills this youth bulge could be instrumental in driving systemic change. By training the youth in new pra...
Article
Full-text available
Essential service organizations are interested in approaches to assess and build infrastructure resilience to ensure an uninterrupted supply of services, such as electricity or water. This study applied a sensemaking approach to assess the nature of social resilience in a national essential service organization in South Africa. It used the SenseMak...
Method
Full-text available
Net-Map is an easy to use social network mapping tool that can be used to assist grass-roots educators develop place-based, action learning in spaces where traditional structures of support are weak or absent. This toolkit provides an introduction to the use of Net-Map as a learning support tool.
Article
Full-text available
Sustainably achieving the goal of global food security is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century. The current food system is failing to meet the needs of people, and at the same time, is having far-reaching impacts on the environment and undermining human well-being in other important ways. It is increasingly apparent that a deep transf...
Article
In the rapidly changing and uncertain world of the Anthropocene, positive visions of the future could play a crucial role in catalysing deep social-ecological transformations to help guide humanity towards more sustainable and equitable futures. This paper presents the outcomes from a novel visioning process designed to elicit creative and inspirat...
Article
Research practice, funding agencies and global science organizations suggest that research aimed at addressing sustainability challenges is most effective when ‘co-produced’ by academics and non-academics. Co-production promises to address the complex nature of contemporary sustainability challenges better than more traditional scientific approache...
Article
Full-text available
In recent years, social-ecological systems (SES) have emerged as a prominent analytical framing with which to investigate pressing sustainability issues associated with the Anthropocene era. Despite the growth of SES research, the lack of a delineated set of methods commonly contributes to disorientation for those entering into a field where method...
Method
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A bottom-up participative approach for conducting formative resilience assessments in a socio-technical system which stimulate general resilience in the social fabric
Research
Full-text available
This brochure summarizes the Framework for Resilient Essential Services
Article
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Sitas, N., Z. V. Harmáčková, J. A. Anticamara, A. Arneth, R. Badola, R. Biggs, R. Blanchard, L. Brotons, M. Cantele, K. Coetzer, R. DasGupta, E. Den Belder, S. Ghosh, A. Guisan, H. Gundimeda, M. Hamann, P. A. Harrison, S. Hashimoto, J. Hauck, B. Klatt, K. Kok, R. M. Krug, A. Niamir, P. J. O'Farrell, S. Okayasu, I. Palomo, L. M. Pereira, P. Riordan,...
Technical Report
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Agroecological family farming is resource efficient but knowledge intensive. This means that no transition to a just and sustainable agricultural future will succeed without a transformation of the knowledge base underpinning the food system. The depth and breadth of this knowledge transition necessitates careful and creative consideration as to ho...
Preprint
Essential service organizations are interested in approaches to assess and build infrastructure resilience to ensure an uninterrupted supply of services, such as electricity or water. This study applied a sensemaking approach to assess the nature of social resilience in a national essential service organization in South Africa. It used the SenseMak...
Article
Full-text available
There is growing interest in studying processes of human sensemaking, as this strongly influences human and organizational behavior as well as complex system dynamics due to the diverse lenses people use to interpret and act in the world. The Cognitive Edge SenseMaker® tool is one method for capturing and making sense of people’s attitudes, percept...
Article
Full-text available
The United Nations’ Agenda 2030 marks significant progress towards sustainable development by making explicit the intention to integrate previously separate social, economic and environmental agendas. Despite this intention, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which were adopted to implement the agenda, are fragmented in their formulation and...
Article
Full-text available
In light of rising levels of youth unemployment in South Africa, now at 50 per cent, research was undertaken to better understand the paradox of young people turning away from agricultural employment in spite of such high levels of unemployment in the country. The research brings to light new evidence of youth perspectives on contemporary attitudes...
Article
Full-text available
Practical approaches are required to operationalize resilience building principles within complex adaptive systems. Resilience can enhance the capacity of complex socio-technical systems that deliver essential services to maintain service delivery amidst disruption. A formative resilience assessment process was designed and tested within an essenti...
Article
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The study of social-ecological systems (SES) has been significantly shaped by insights from research on complex adaptive systems (CAS). We offer a brief overview of the conceptual integration of CAS research and its implications for the advancement of SES studies and methods. We propose a conceptual typology of six organizing principles of CAS base...
Chapter
Full-text available
Scenario planning is a key approach for exploring the longer term consequences of nature-society interactions, and are used to inform policy making about the potential risks, opportunities and tradeoffs of different possible future pathways of change. Scenarios do not aim to forecast or predict the future, but rather to highlight how different pote...
Article
Social-ecological systems (SES) research offers new theory and evidence to transform sustainable development to better contend with the challenges of the Anthropocene. Four insights from contemporary SES literature on (a) intertwined SES, (b) cross-scale dynamics, (c) systemic tipping points, and (d) transformational change are explored. Based on t...
Article
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Regime shifts, i.e., large, persistent, and usually unexpected changes in ecosystems and social-ecological systems, can have major impacts on ecosystem services, and consequently, on human well-being. However, the vulnerability of different regions to various regime shifts is largely unknown because evidence for the existence of regime shifts in di...
Article
Full-text available
African savannas are increasingly affected by woody encroachment, an increase in the density of woody plants. Woody encroachment often occurs unexpectedly, is difficult to reverse, and has significant economic, cultural and ecological implications. The process of woody encroachment represents a so-called regime shift that results from feedback loop...
Article
Full-text available
Essential services such as electricity are critical to human well-being and the functioning of modern society. These services are produced by complex adaptive socio-technical systems and emerge from the interplay of technical infrastructure with people and governing institutions. Ongoing global changes such as urbanization and increasing prevalence...
Chapter
Full-text available
Global urbanization promises better services, stronger economies, and more connections; it also carries risks and unforeseeable consequences. To deepen our understanding of this complex process and its importance for global sustainability, we need to build interdisciplinary knowledge around a systems approach. Urban Planet takes an integrative look...
Article
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The unique challenges posed by the Anthropocene require creative ways of engaging with the future and bringing about transformative change. Envisioning positive futures is a first step in creating a shared understanding and commitment that enables radical transformations toward sustainability in a world defined by complexity, diversity, and uncerta...
Article
Wide agreement exists that the “Anthropocene” demands new forms of engagement and responses to achieve sustainability, but different fields suggest quite different approaches. In this communication, we set out four perspectives that we argue have fundamentally different framings of the “problem” of the Anthropocene, and consequently point to very d...
Article
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The scale, rate, and intensity of humans' environmental impact has engendered broad discussion about how to find plausible pathways of development that hold the most promise for fostering a better future in the Anthropocene. However, the dominance of dystopian visions of irreversible environmental degradation and societal collapse, along with overl...
Article
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We take a social-ecological systems perspective to investigate the linkages between ecosystem services and human well-being in South Africa. A recent paper identified different types of social-ecological systems in the country, based on distinct bundles of ecosystem service use. These system types were found to represent increasingly weak direct fe...
Data
Correlations between all ecosystem service (ES) use and human well-being (HWB) indicators. Numbers in the boxes represent Spearman’s ρ (rS); only coloured boxes represent significant (p < 0.05) correlations between indicators (blue = significantly positive correlations, red = significantly negative correlations). (PDF)
Data
Human well-being bundles when k-means clustering was restricted to two clusters. (PDF)
Data
Multidimensional scaling ordination diagram for all South African municipalities (n = 234), based on five human well-being measures. Colours indicate the three different human well-being bundle types identified in the cluster analysis. (PDF)
Data
Human well-being clusters resulting from a hierarchical cluster analysis. (PDF)
Article
Humanity has emerged as a major force in the operation of the biosphere. The focus is shifting from the environment as externality to the biosphere as precondition for social justice, economic development, and sustainability. In this article, we exemplify the intertwined nature of social-ecological systems and emphasize that they operate within, an...
Article
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Social-ecological regime shifts involve large, often abrupt, reorganizations in interlinked social and ecological systems. The domestication of fire illustrates how physiological and social changes enabled humans to start actively controlling fire, dramatically reshaping the environment and society itself.
Article
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Recent global crises reveal an emerging pattern of causation that could increasingly characterize the birth and progress of future global crises. A conceptual framework identifies this pattern's deep causes, intermediate processes, and ultimate outcomes. The framework shows how multiple stresses can interact within a single social-ecological system...
Article
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A B S T R A C T We present an approach to identify and map social–ecological systems based on the direct use of ecosystem services by households. This approach builds on the premise that characteristic bundles of ecosystem service use represent integrated expressions of different underlying social–ecological systems. We test the approach in South...
Article
Full-text available
Many ecosystems can experience regime shifts: surprising, large and persistent changes in the function and structure of ecosystems. Assessing whether continued global change will lead to further regime shifts, or has the potential to trigger cascading regime shifts has been a central question in global change policy. Addressing this issue has, howe...
Article
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Improving our ability to manage complex, rapidly changing social-ecological systems is one of the defining challenges of the 21st century. This is particularly crucial if large-scale poverty alleviation is to be secured without undermining the capacity of the environment to support future generations. To address this challenge, strategies that enab...
Article
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[Extract] Humans all over the planet are struggling and aspiring to engage with the scale and scope of the challenge of achieving human well-being and environmental stewardship for all. This special feature presents the products of processes in Southern Africa that have explored the potential use of complexity approaches to tackling the substantial...