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A New Framework to Enable Equitable Outcomes: Resilience and Nexus Approaches Combined

Managing integrated social‐ecological systems to reduce risks to human and environmental well‐being remains challenging in light of the rate and extent of undesirable changes that are occurring. Developing frameworks that are sufficiently integrative to guide research to deliver the necessary insights into all key system aspects is an important outstanding task.

Among existing approaches, resilience and nexus framings both allow focus on unpacking relationships across scales and levels in a system and emphasize the involvement of different groups in decision making to different extents. They also suffer weaknesses and neither approach puts social justice considerations explicitly at its core. This has important implications for understanding who wins and loses out from different decisions and how social and ecological risks and trade‐offs are shared and distributed, temporally and spatially.

This paper conceptually integrates resilience and nexus approaches, developing a combined framework and indicating how it could effectively be operationalized in cases from mountain and mangrove social‐ecological systems. In doing so, it advances understanding of complex social‐ecological systems framings for risk‐based decision making beyond that which could be achieved through use of either resilience or nexus approaches alone. Important next steps in testing the framework involve empirical and field operationalization, requiring interdisciplinary, mixed method approaches.

Resilience and nexus approaches share considerable common ground and can be usefully combined to build on the strengths and address the weaknesses of each approach. The WEF‐PIK resilience framework developed in this paper can guide research into resilience trajectories, informing assessment of multiscale system dynamics through the use of mixed‐methods and interdisciplinary approaches. It considers the spatial nature of interactions by focusing on multiple scales and sectors and the links between them, both within and between each strand of the double helix, as well as the way these relationships change over time: past, present, and future.

Through the use of the three principles of unpack, traverse, and share, the framework offers potential to fill a key gap in both nexus and resilience thinking by guiding a more prominent focus on issues of social justice, environmental equity, and economic equity, all of which are important in risk‐based decision processes.

The next steps are to empirically operationalize the framework in the case study contexts, advancing it beyond desk‐based feasibility testing through its application to real‐world settings. Information gained through application of the framework can be used to support risk‐based decision making as a result of improved multiscale data provision, both temporal and spatial, such that social‐ecological systems can be guided toward more equitable and just resilience.


Stringer, L. C., Quinn, C. H., Le, H. T. V.,Msuya, F., Pezzuti, J., Dallimer, M., et al.(2018). A new framework to enable equitable outcomes: Resilience and nexus approaches combined. Earth’s Future,6.