|dc.description.abstract||Over the last decades, employing adaptive capacity and vulnerability terms to indicate forms of achieving more sustainable goals, particularly in the management of natural resources, has become increasingly frequent. While this has led to a boost in policy-making discourses and guidelines for governing complex social-ecological systems, it is essential to recognize that the broad and indistinct use of such concepts has given rise to multiple interpretations, forms of application, and, therefore, diverse policy-making solutions. Considering that the realities of complex social-ecological systems are place-specific, this dissertation provides some clarifications on vulnerability and adaptive capacity. It suggests strategies and actions that might help practitioners and policymakers to interpret and operationalize the terms, enabling them to move from conceptualizations to practice in distinct contexts, as well as build adaptive capacity and enhance the resilience of complex social–ecological systems.
This dissertation highlights that bolstering the capacity of a system of interest to adapt depends partly on its ability to explore location-specific conditions that enable it to anticipate and respond proactively to diverse shocks, recover and take advantage of new opportunities (Folke et al. 2002b; Engle 2011; Whitney et al. 2017; Cinner et al. 2018). This capacity depends primarily on factors such as the system’s technological, behavioural, financial, institutional, and informational resources (Adger 2003b; Burton 2003; Smit and Wandel 2006). This dissertation recognizes that an analysis of the forms of governance and collaboration networks, as well as their linkages, is critical in determining adaptive capacity and resilience when addressing the vulnerabilities of a social–ecological system in the short and long term (Wandel and Marchildon 2010; Pittman et al. 2015). Therefore, it explores ways of building adaptive capacity and enhancing common-pool resource governance’s resilience in light of diverse, adverse, internal and external drivers of change, such as climate change, novel pandemics, and institutional fragmentations, using qualitative and social network approaches.
Today, many multidimensional issues cross human-made administrative and political borders, making it increasingly difficult to govern common-pool resources such as small-scale fisheries. Addressing countless simultaneous and sudden social-ecological interactions requires the collaboration, support and involvement of actors and stakeholders from various areas, geographical scales, and administrative levels. The adverse effects of COVID-19 and climate change are likely the most recent and perhaps the most explicit and vivid examples worldwide of how sudden external drivers of change can rapidly affect livelihoods and alter the socio-economic dynamics in complex social–ecological systems from one day to another, pushing them into more profound social and economic crisis. Thus, a society that might face the adverse effects of new drivers of change derived from novel pandemics, climate change, or globalization requires approaches and strategies that will enable decision-makers and policymakers to act during unexpected and rapid changes. In this regard, this dissertation examines polycentric approaches to governance, including linkages (partnerships) spanning multiple scales and levels, from global to local, that rely on formal and informal networks to create the correct links at the correct time to face climate-related factors of change and non-climate-related drivers of change that generate vulnerability in complex social–ecological systems.
Since governance often represents the different structures by which societies share power and are platforms to define collective and individual actions (Kooiman 2003a; Lautze et al. 2011), this dissertation explores the Galapagos small-scale fishing governance system, a crucial socio-economic sector for diverse coastal communities and food security in the Galapagos Islands. This archipelago is widely recognized in conservation for incorporating the islands that inspired Darwin’s theory of evolution but whose high levels of endemism have indirectly hampered research efforts to focus mainly on the biophysical features of the islands and disregarded social sciences as forms of building adaptive capacity. My doctoral research examines forms of addressing context-specific vulnerabilities and building adaptive capacity through a social science perspective to fill this gap. In doing so, this dissertation aims to 1) assess how vulnerability assessments and decision-making planning tools can be applied to increase adaptive capacity at the local scale in the face of multiple drivers of change; 2) explore the role of collaboration and social networks in building adaptive capacity in the Galapagos small-scale fishing sector; 3) improve the collaboration network of the Galapagos small-scale governance system in light of multiple drivers of change.||en