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Social Learning and Resilience Building in the emBRACE framework


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This report explores how the challenges faced by communities at risk from environmental hazards might be tackled via the application of social learning practices. By outlining the theoretical framework for social learning a better understanding of its application for developing resilient communities is been proposed. The mechanisms for triggering social learning are then outlined, with examples from flood and heat wave risk in the UK employed to highlight how this might be achieved. Gaps and further opportunities for learning and research are outlined, again supported with examples from the UK and Turkey. This provides context for enhancing understandings of the utility of social learning. Most notably, as a way of evolving resilience discourse and practice in order to mitigate the potential and manifest consequences of the disaster risks posed by environmental hazards, by adapting to changes, understanding the wider context and bouncing forwards.
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... This gloomy outlook has led many scholars, government agencies and practitioners to highlight the need to secure so-called "resilient" urban water services Ofwat 2009;Jha et al. 2011) as the key to -arguably more sustainable -development. "Resilience" is generally understood as "continuity through change" (Birkmann et al. 2012:1) through an increased capacity to cope and adapt to a changing climate and environment (Pelling et al. 2015). ...
... Social learning not only implies changes in knowledge and understanding, but also refers to improved collective understanding and management through the transfer of individual learning to a larger social unit Pelling et al. 2015;Pahl-Wostl 2002). Thus, social learning could potentially contribute to integration by bridging the different perceptions, institutions and disciplines found in the risk and development community, in a transition process. ...
... Social learning refers to changes in knowledge that translate into improved collective understanding and management Pelling et al. 2015). It is related to socialization, the lifelong process through which individuals internalize and disseminate societal norms, beliefs, and knowledge in the interaction within and between social groups (Abeling 2015). ...
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The development of cities is increasingly threatened by a worldwide water crisis. Urban water services (including drinking water, sanitation and drainage) are facing complex and multiple pressures, which are becoming increasingly frequent and severe. These pressures include floods, and the depletion, pollution and degradation of water resources and their associated ecosystems. These diverse pressures fall mainly within the domains of flood risk and water resources management: two working fields that are divided by different institutional structures, approaches and practices. Social learning is becoming increasingly popular as an approach that has the potential to “bridge” these silos, and ultimately, contribute to building resilience in urban water services. However, empirical analyses on this issue are rare and fragmented. Against this background, this thesis investigates the role of social learning for resilience building in urban water services. It is based on single and multiple case studies from the urban areas of Cali (Colombia), Cebu (The Philippines), Durban (South Africa), Gorakhpur (India) and Kristianstad (Sweden). The results identify challenges to the integration of the identified silos, what resilience means for urban water services, and the key elements of social learning that can support or inhibit urban water resilience. The results provide important input for new theory, policy and practice related to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and national policies on sustainable water management, risk reduction and climate change adaptation.
... Interconnected challenges of poverty alleviation and ecosystem sustainability span multiple scales and are arguably rooted in how societies understand their world and interact with natural systems (Folke et al. 2011). To achieve sustainability, the transformation of systems at various scales is required (Olsson et al. 2014, Pelling et al. 2015a, Galafassi et al. 2018. To this end, not only is the construction of scenarios a process that can assist fishers in dealing with system uncertainty, it can ultimately be the catalyst for changes in mindset, attitudes, and beliefs at the personal and household scales that are required for system transformation (Folke et al. 2010, Pelling and Manuel-Navarrete 2011, Béné et al. 2012, Pelling et al. 2015b, Armitage et al. 2017. ...
... can create a situation/space where knowledge, values, action, and competencies can be developed in harmony to increase the capacity to build resilience to change. Learning amongst peers is believed to facilitate faster and deeper learning when compared to that received by top-down dissemination of information (Pelling et al. 2015a). ...
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Scenario-planning, a management tool used for addressing challenges in complex and uncertain social-ecological systems (SES), offers a helpful way to facilitate responses to complex change by stakeholders at all scales of the SES. This is facilitated through imagining possible futures in pursuit of a pre-determined and common goal. Environmental variability, together with a failure to recognize the integrated nature of marine SES, are two drivers of change that have contributed to the depletion of ocean resources and stressed fishing communities, including in the southern Benguela system off South Africa’s west and south coasts. Here, we present a scenario planning process, informed by transformative scenario planning, conducted with the community of fishers from the town of Melkhoutfontein in the southern Cape region. Together with the fishers, we developed four stories of the future of Melkhoutfontein within the context of an overarching theoretical approach to support the implementation of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAF). These stories incorporate scenarios on key driving forces identified by participants, complemented by key driving forces identified through a related process using problem structuring tools. The stories contrast situations with (no) access to fishing rights and (un-)favorable economics. They are backdropped by two potential future ecosystem types (warm temperate versus subtropical) and knowledge acquired from strategic planning at the national scale. We discuss the insights gained from the scenario-building process, emphasizing lessons learned from this small-scale process with marginalized fishers and how this may contribute to the over-arching scenario-based approach.
... To connect outcomes of learning in their cognitive and behavioural dimensions, references are done to the loop-learning theory by Argyris and Schön (1978, see, e.g. McCarthy et al. 2011, Pelling et al. 2015. They identify loops that depend on the degree of critical reflection developed along the learning process. ...
... process of knowledge creation (McCarthy et al. 2011), is co-produced by actors (e.g. through bricolage, knowledge exchange and integration, see Pelling et al. 2015) and produces outcomes that feedback into practice. In order to detect learning dynamics, it is, therefore, crucial to consider which knowledge is produced or acquired, how, and how it is used. ...
Urban resilience is almost unanimously identified as an inherently positive guiding principle in the risk reduction policy field. However, limited attention is paid to the learning dimension of resilience-building. To help bridge the gap, this research explores the interplay of learning processes, learning outcomes, and institutional action and investigates how capacities for reflection and collaboration develop in the face of wicked, risk-related problems. The study focuses on post-flood reorganisation processes developed in cities repeatedly affected by more or less severe flood events. It proposes and illustrates an analytical framework to capture dynamics affecting policy-making processes that tackle risk in contexts characterised by high complexity, uncertainty, and political pressure. The framework is tested by looking at reorganisation attempts carried out to face the “eternal flooding” of the Seveso Torrent, which has affected the Northern neighbourhoods of Milan for decades, with over 100 events recorded after 1976. Results from the Milanese case highlight the existence of a learning and policy deadlock, where the impossibility to amend “historical mistakes” in decision-making and patterns of spatial, discursive and governance fragmentation hamper (reflective) action and contribute to policy inertia. This research provides a theoretical background and methodological insights for investigating risk-reduction attempts in their interplay with framing and knowledge-related dynamics and broader relational, discursive, and regulatory factors, thus providing insights into the field of policy analysis.
... Users prefer to receive information in formats that make it easier to apply; approaches like iterative dialogue can help determine what those formats should be (Bielak et al. 2008). Ethnographic study, such as through interviews and observation, has been used by technology companies like Intel (Anderson 2009) to identify and better understand user context, and determine what terminology is best for communicating the product to different users (Pelling et al. 2015). To design products that address the specific perspective and culture of different users, development of user personas that summarize observations of potential users into different archetypes can help. ...
... For example, once a specified number of people have adopted a solution, it is determined that a level of adoption has been achieved, and the project team can allow users to begin leading the process. This allows for self and group efficacy as users increase their confidence to perform a task successfully, while also maintaining the skills and knowledge acquired (Bandura 1977(Bandura , 1997Pelling et al. 2015). ...
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Earth Observation (EO) data play an important role in our society today, but there is still tremendous opportunity to improve how these data are used to affect change. In this paper, we provide guidance to help data providers and intermediaries within the EO value chain (from data to applications) increase the societal value of the EO data, information, and data products that they work with. We first describe the EO value chain as a conceptual framework for how data are translated and applied for societal benefit. We then introduce three approaches that are often used to assess and improve the EO value chain. Finally, we present “10 rules” that can be implemented to increase the societal benefits of Earth science information. The 10 rules emphasize meeting user needs, problem-solving within interdisciplinary teams, and long-term sustainable solutions. Some rules focus on a specific segment of the value chain or phase in the problem-solving process, while others are relevant to the value chain or process as a whole. Each rule includes at least one case study example to illustrate the key points. The rules are loosely organized according to project management principles with the initial rules focusing on defining problems, planning for data use, creating effective teams, and examining a diverse selection of solutions. The next set of rules are best applied throughout a project, and include such concepts as evaluation, interoperability, trust, adoption, and documentation. Finally, the last rule addresses the challenge of determining when to close a project.
... There is evidence that events in community venues can offer useful support, by enabling social contact and providing the social spaces necessary for encouraging supportive sharing and networking. This approach has been identified as a key driver of resilience to hazards in vulnerable groups (Pelling et al., 2015), and was suggested as an important source of support in responses to the Community sub-group questionnaire. ...
... 399. Insurance is a fundamentally important flood risk management measure, which enables the flood affected to share the cost of their losses with the wider population (Pelling, 2003). As such, insurance can, in theory, enable households and businesses to recover more quickly than if they were to rely on their resources alone. ...
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During the first week of December 2015, Cumbria was subjected to its third extreme flood event in a decade. Despite this recent experience, the impact of Storm Desmond on the county was unparalleled in many respects: i.e. in terms of record rainfall and river flows, the number of properties flooded and flood affected and also in terms of the pressure that dealing with those impacts placed on all organisations with a role in response and recovery. In effect, Cumbria, its institutions and its communities were faced with recovering from a disaster. Given the scale of the event, the Cumbria Local Resilience Forum partners activated a coordinated response effort on Saturday 5th December that drew resources from across the country. This acute phase response has already been subjected to a review process, which generated 82 recommendations. Even as people were still being rescued from their homes, Cumbria’s resilience partners began planning for the recovery challenge; this is a clear illustration of good practice. Partnership groups to support recovery were established within the first few days. Once the response phase had been concluded, formal responsibility for the coordination of recovery activities across the four affected districts transitioned to the Strategic Recovery Coordination Group (SRCG) chaired by Cumbria County Council. This transition occurred on Thursday 10th December. The SRCG and its sub-groups then acted as a central hub to oversee recovery activities, securing additional capabilities and capacities where necessary and always endeavouring to meet the group’s principal objective: “Working with local communities to restore Cumbria to normality” The nine SRCG sub-groups each focused on the coordination of a set of clearly defined, but also inevitably cross-cutting, work streams: Financial & Legal; Infrastructure; Business & Economy; Health & Welfare; Schools & Learning; Environment; Housing; Communities, and; Communications. This review focused on investigating the activities of the SRCG and its sub-groups for a period of more a year and a half following the storm. This long timeline allowed for a greater understanding to be developed of both the initial efforts to restore and reconstruct following such a major event (e.g. bridge repairs) and the longer-term persistent challenges that have affected Cumbria’s impacted communities (e.g. householders’ negotiations with insurers and builders).
... Nevertheless, some previous studies indicated that Canaã lacks qualified workers for the jobs offered (Matlaba et al. 2018). Furthermore, the municipality needs to improve its management and increase citizen participation in decision-making, reducing unilateral decisions (Adger 2000;Folke et al. 2002;Resilience Alliance 2010;UNO 2012;Buschbacher 2014;Pelling et al. 2015;Leonard et al. 2016). The stakeholders can achieve better local management of the changes that affect people. ...
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The ability of communities to react to risks and disturbances is for their balance, development, and sustainability. The concept of resilience provides a way to think about policies and actions for future changes in socioeconomic and ecological-environmental systems. This paper analyzes, in the context of mining, the perception of the resilience of Canaã dos Carajás population in Pará State, Brazilian Amazon. The methodology involved face-to-face interviews based on a structured questionnaire conducted on a sample of 140 residents stratified from 11 social actors in the Canaã community. This approach allowed the evaluation of resilience perception using 26 interview statements derived from six resilience theories. Our multivariate analysis found that the level of residents’ perception of resilience was reasonable (with an average score of 3.04 ± 0.22 using a Likert scale, with a Cronbach’s alpha of 0.788). The interviewees pointed out one positive and five negative factors that influenced the level of resilience in Canaã. According to residents’ perceptions, the resilience of Canaã dos Carajás was moderate but could have been improved with more economic diversification, more infrastructure, and less inequality in access to services and participation in decision-making. The considered most relevant themes were problems caused by mining in the municipality, quality of life issues, difficulties dealing with change after the arrival of mining, and economic problems. This study contributes to the literature because it used theories as a conceptual orientation for the development of a resilience scale to measure resilience at the community level in the context of large-scale mining.
... Recognise and utilise the capabilities and capacities that exist within communities (Cabinet Office 2011) and remember that 'people in communities have the greatest vested interest in managing their flood risk' (National Flood Forum and Collingwood Environmental Planning 2018, p. 11). Build on existing structures and mechanisms , Pelling et al. 2015, Twigger-Ross et al. 2015, Deeming 2017. This may include engaging with special interest groups that are not directly related to flooding or climate change (Environment Agency 2008). ...
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This evidence review was commissioned as part of the Joint Research Programme project ‘Working Together to Adapt to a Changing Climate: Flood and Coast’ (2018 to 2021). The project is a response to concerns about the increasing likelihood of flooding and coastal erosion as a result of climate change and the possibility that some places will not be protected in the longer term. Adapting to climate change is at the heart of the new Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for England. Evidence from the project will contribute towards its aim of creating climate resilient places. The project aims to produce new learning about, and enhanced guidance for, community engagement practice in situations where engagement might be particularly challenging. This review of evidence was commissioned primarily to inform the design and delivery in the next phase of the project of an innovative community engagement programme in 2 locations facing difficult adaptation choices. However, it is also intended to be useful to practitioners, policymakers and academics working on flood and coastal erosion risk management (FCERM) and/or climate adaptation.
... Through learning affected actors can enhance their capacity for action that ultimately has to do with "the ability to enact and to use organisational rules and procedures, and with the degree of control that the actor can exercise on the rules and procedures" (lanzara 1983, p. 78). When engaged in shared learning processes, affected actors can become "more confident and competent at identifying, analysing, reflecting and adapting their own schema of understanding and practices for living in an uncertain world" ( Pelling et al. 2015, p. 2). Therefore, iterative learning processes accompanying the response and recovery phases have emancipatory potential. ...
The Concept of resilience has the capacity to describe issues holistically across different urban layers in diverse fields. Besides, Urban regeneration projects (URPs) result in shifts in the physical environment and perceptual landscape of its communities, where its interventions are explored carefully in this paper to evaluate which interventions stimulate or hinder resilience. For the purpose of understanding URPs impact on social resilience, Sighthill case-study was investigated as part of an ongoing transformational regeneration scheme across Glasgow using place-based approach. Emphasis on social dimensions is given, in addition to the extent of institutions preparedness and involvement to stimulate resilience. This research demonstrates that resilience isn’t only a reactive approach that is confined to response to sudden shocks. However, it’s more promising if considered as a proactive long-term approach, which gradually leads to socio-ecological and institutional transformation. Encouraging bottom-up approaches lead to socially innovative activities that are found to be one of the main stimulants of resilience across communities and stakeholders. Lastly, four strategies are derived from the analysis of findings as part of the recommendations including empowering locals; initiating place-based solutions; upgrading efforts for economic growth; and developing civic participation.
Across Europe, there is an increasing trend towards citizen involvement in the implementation of flood risk governance. Policy-makers increasingly advocate co-produced flood risk governance (FRG), whereby citizens are actively engaged in the implementation of flood risk policy, for example, by taking property-level protection measures. In doing so, they aim to make FRG more resilient, efficient and legitimate [Mees, H., Crabbé, A., Alexander, M., Kaufmann, M., Bruzzone, L., Levy, L., & Lewandowski, J. (2016a). Coproducing flood risk management through citizen involvement: Insights from cross-country comparison in Europe. Ecology and Society, 21(3), 7.]. Co-production, however, also raises important questions concerning these aims. In this paper, the opportunities and limitations of and barriers to citizen co-production in FRG in terms of resilience, efficiency and legitimacy are investigated by an extensive review of literature on citizen co-production in other public services and on individual and community-based climate change adaptation and FRG. Based on this, a tentative framework is developed on the required conditions to enable co-produced FRG, which benefits both the resilience, efficiency and legitimacy of FRG.
We are now in the midst of a notable revival of interest in the politics of the American states. During the last decade many studies have been conducted of the social, political and economic determinants of state policy outcomes. Several of these writers have argued that the relative wealth of a state, its degree of industrialization, and other measures of social and economic development are more important in explaining its level of expenditures than such political factors as the form of legislative apportionment, the amount of party competition, or the degree of voter participation. It has been claimed that such factors as the level of personal income or the size of the urban population are responsible both for the degree of participation and party competition in a state, and the nature of the system's policy outputs. By making this argument these writers have called into question the concepts of representation and theories of party and group conflict which, in one form or another, are the foundations for much of American political science. There is a growing awareness, however, that levels of expenditure alone are not an adequate measure of public policy outcomes. Sharkansky has shown, for example, that levels of expenditure and levels of actual service are seldom correlated; presumably, some states are able to reach given service levels with much less expenditure than others. Besides establishing the appropriate level of expenditure for a program, policy makers must also decide about the program's relative scope, provisions for appeal from administrative orders, eligibility requirements, the composition of regulatory boards and commissions, and many other matters which have little to do with money.
Risk management is a well established tool for climate change adaptation. It is facing new challenges with the end of climate stationarity and the need to meaningfully engage people in governance issues. The ways in which conventional approaches to risk management can respond to these challenges are explored. Conventional approaches to risk management are summarized, the manner in which they are being advanced as a tool for climate change adaptation is described, and emerging themes in risk management and climate change adaption are documented. It is argued that conventional risk management for climate change adaptation can benefit from the insights and experiences of adaptive co-management. A hybrid approach termed adaptive collaborative risk management is thus envisaged that enriches conventional risk management with the critical features of adaptive co-management, i.e., collaboration and adaptation. Adaptive Collaborative Risk Management overcomes some of the challenges with conventional risk management, builds upon and complements other approaches to community climate change adaptation, and innovatively addresses both technical and governance concerns in a single integrated process.
Climate change is the single largest threat to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and sustainable development. Addressing climate risk is a challenge for all. This book calls for greater collaboration between climate communities and disaster development communities. In discussing this, the book will evaluate the approaches used by each community to reduce the adverse effects of climate change. One area that offers some promise for bringing together these communities is through the concept of resilience. This term is increasingly used in each community to describe a process that embeds capacity to respond to and cope with disruptive events. This emphasizes an approach that is more focused on pre-event planning and using strategies to build resilience to hazards in an adaptation framework. The book will conclude by evaluating the scope for a holistic approach where these communities can effectively contribute to building communities that are resilient to climate driven risks.
This chapter focuses on the role of learning in advancing climate change adaptation. The main research questions are, How can participatory processes contribute to learning on climate change and adaptation? What characterizes this learning process and how, if at all, does it contribute to a self-perceived increase in the capacity to adapt to climate change? The chapter uses a case study of the Swedish forestry sector to address these questions. It presents an empirical analysis of data obtained from twelve focus groups, a joint stakeholder workshop, and follow-up interviews. The analysis then provides the basis for a discussion of the potential for participatory processes and learning to build adaptive capacity to climate change.