Harnessing the Potential of Vulnerability Assessments for Managing Social-ecological Systems

Thiault, L
Jupiter, SD
Johnson, JE
Cinner, JE
Jarvis, RM
Heron, SF
Maina, JM
Marshall, NA
Marshall, PA
Claudet, J
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Journal Article
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Resilience Alliance, Inc.

The concept of vulnerability has broadened from initial applications in the fields of risk and hazards, human ecology and resilience to include the management of social-ecological systems (SES). We review how this concept has been operationalized in various contexts and identify opportunities and challenges to apply vulnerability assessments to SES management in the face of social, environmental, and climatic changes. We synthesize these lessons into a 12-step framework to help practitioners scope, design, operationalize, and implement vulnerability assessments that can effectively minimize exposure, reduce sensitivity, and enhance adaptive capacity. We describe the rationale, assumptions, and implications that underlie each step and highlight future directions that are critically needed to further enable vulnerability assessments to address real-world sustainability challenges. These include applying biocultural approaches, building knowledge about SES vulnerability to nonclimate stressors, and anticipating potential trade-offs and maladaptation. The framework presented provides a roadmap for the development of integrated vulnerability assessments that are robust, context-specific, and relevant to the management of SES.

Conservation planning; Environmental management; Risk; Social-ecological systems; Sustainability; Vulnerability
Ecology and Society 26(2):1. https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-12167-260201
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Copyright © 2021 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.