In an era of rapid environmental shifts, social change, and unprecedented economic development, the worldwide demand and need for trans-disciplinary and policy-relevant research has never been greater or more urgent. Climate change, among other stressors, might produce events that cannot be precisely predicted, analyzed or prepared. Therefore, coping with large-scale ecological and societal change, protecting ecosystem functions, and achieving sustainable development will all require a more rigorous integration of multiple research disciplines. Building resilience becomes the optimal course of action for large complex systems. Resilience thinking embraces human and natural systems as complex intertwined entities constantly undergoing cycles of change, and seeks to understand the qualities of such systems that must be maintained or improved in order to achieve sustainable development.
“In the last 15 years, the number of scientific publications on resilience in relation to the environment has increased about 25 times, to well over 6,000 publications with more than a total of 120,000 citations across the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities, and in interdisciplinary journals” -- Carl Folke, Science director, Stockholm Resilience Centre
In essence, resilience thinking can help us avoid the trap of simply rebuilding and repairing flawed structures of the past, like an economic system overly reliant on risky speculation and overexploitation of natural resources. On the contrary, resilience thinking is about anticipating, adapting, learning, and transforming human actions in light of the unprecedented challenges of our increasingly turbulent world.