Reclaim the Sea

Coming together demanding environmental and social justice with a global movement to reclaim our oceans and coastlines

read more

Shifting perspectives on resource management: Resilience and the Reconceptualization of ‘Natural Resources’ and ‘Management’

4 years ago, Written by , Posted in Academia, Articles

Fikret Berkes
Natural Resources Institute, University of Manitoba, Canada


Conventional notions of ‘natural resources’ and ‘management’ are problematic because of their history, and they need to be reconceptualised. The term ‘resource’ carries a sense of ‘free goods’, human-centric use and commodification of nature; it can be revised to include the protection of ecosystem services for human well-being. The term ‘management’ implies domination of nature, efficiency, simplification, and expert-knows-best, command-and-control approaches. It similarly needs a makeover to emphasize stewardship, pluralism, collaboration, partnerships and adaptive governance, balancing efficiency objectives against ecological and social objectives. Resilience is a recurring theme in discussions of shifting perspectives in resource management, and I argue that it can be used as the basis of such a reconceptualization. The main elements of the resilience approach include attention to drivers and change processes, treating social-ecological systems as complex adaptive systems characterized by cycles and uncertainty, and social systems and ecosystems as coupled and co-evolving. It is a good fit for contemporary resource management highlighting property rights, participation, interaction of institutions at multiple levels, and experimentation as in adaptive management and interactive governance.

In Maritime Studies (MAST), Volume 9(1):13-40