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Transfers of vulnerability through adaptation plan implementation: an analysis based on networks of feedback control loops

Olivier Barreteau, G-EAU, Univ Montpellier, AgroParisTech, Cirad, IRD, INRAE, Montpellier SupAgro, Montpellier, France
John M Anderies, School of Sustainability and School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Chloe Guerbois, Nelson Mandela University, Sustainability Research Unit, George, South Africa
Tara Quinn, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, UK
Clara Therville, CEFE, CNRS, Univ Montpellier, Univ Paul Valéry, EPHE, IRD, Montpellier, France; G-EAU, Univ Montpellier, AgroParisTech, Cirad, IRD, INRAE, Montpellier SupAgro, Montpellier, France; CIRAD, UPR GREEN, Montpellier, France; GREEN, Université de Montpellier, Cirad, Montpellier, France
Raphael Mathevet, CEFE, CNRS, Univ Montpellier, Univ Paul Valéry, EPHE, IRD, Montpellier, France; Institut Français de Pondichéry, CNRS/MAEE, Pondicherry, India
Francois Bousquet, CIRAD, UPR GREEN, Montpellier, France; GREEN, Université de Montpellier, Cirad, Montpellier, France

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-11402-250203

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Abstract

With the increasing number of adaptation plans being generated across the world at multiple scales and levels of organization, the issue of coordination among plans is emerging as a significant challenge. We focus on how lack of coordination may constrain their efficiency as a result of potential transfers of vulnerability. This paper focuses on interdependencies between autonomous feedback control loops that represent adaptation processes and makes the link between autonomous action and (social-ecological) system levels. These interdependencies allow changes in vulnerability of one adaptation actor as a consequence of the reduction of vulnerability of another actor. We refer to the processes behind such changes as “vulnerability transfers” and suggest the need for their identification so that actors may make agreements to address them explicitly. A thorough analysis of each step involved in a feedback control loop enables the identification of potential interdependencies, leading to seven basic types of vulnerability transfer. The analysis of example cases of observed transfers of vulnerability in three coastal case studies then demonstrate the suitability of feedback control loop networks to assess, ex-ante, potential vulnerability transfers. The example cases feature all types of theoretically possible vulnerability transfers. Initial empirical investigation showcases the relative importance of shared infrastructures in generating transfers of vulnerability. It also helps to reveal forgotten links to avoid decreasing efficiency of adaptation processes beyond each autonomous agent’s jurisdiction. Our representation contributes to a more comprehensive ex-ante identification of transfers and hence the possibility to discuss and manage them.

Key words

coastal areas vulnerability; externalities; feedback control loop; infrastructures; interdependences; robustness

Copyright © 2020 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.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087