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Ecohealth and resilience thinking: a dialog from experiences in research and practice

Marta Berbés-Blázquez, York University, Faculty of Environmental Studies; Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica, Instituto Regional de Estudios en Sustancias Tóxicas
Jordan Sky Oestreicher, Université du Québec à Montréal, Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche sur la biologie, la santé, la société et l’environnement (Cinbiose); Community of Practice in Ecosystem Approaches to Health in Canada (CoPEH-Canada)
Frédéric Mertens, Universidade de Brasília, Centro de Desenvolvimento Sustentável; Community of Practice in Ecosystem Approaches to Health in Latin America and the Caribbean (CoPEH-LAC)
Johanne Saint-Charles, Université du Québec à Montréal, Centre interdisciplinaire de recherche sur la biologie, la santé, la société et l’environnement (Cinbiose)

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-06264-190224

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Abstract

Resilience thinking and ecosystems approaches to health (EAH), or ecohealth, share roots in complexity science, although they have distinct foundations in ecology and population health, respectively. The current articulations of these two approaches are strongly converging, but each approach has its strengths. Resilience thinking has developed theoretical models to the study of social–ecological systems, whereas ecohealth has a vast repertoire of experience in dealing with complex health issues. With the two fields dovetailing, there is ripe opportunity to create a dialog centered on concepts that are more thoroughly developed in one field, which can then serve to advance the other. In this article, we first present an overview of the ecohealth and resilience thinking frameworks before opening a dialog centered on seven themes that have strong potential for cross-pollination between the two approaches: scale interactions, regime shifts, adaptive environmental management, social learning, participation, social and gender equity, and knowledge to action. We conclude with some future research suggestions for those interested in theoretical and practical applications at the intersection of environment and health. In particular, closer collaboration between these two fields can lead to addressing blind spots in the ecosystem services framework, complementary social-network analysis, the application of resilience heuristics to the understanding of health, and the development of a normative dimension in resilience thinking.

Key words

complexity; ecohealth; ecosystem approaches to health; health; resilience thinking; social–ecological systems

Copyright © 2014 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