Resilience in Complex Catchment Systems
How can we use catchment resilience as a unifying concept in catchment management and regulation—particularly in light of climate risks, population growth and other pressures?
2. The Catchment as a Complex Natural-Social-Technical (NST) System
3. How to Be Resilient: Bounce Back, Absorb and Transform
3.1. Engineering Resilience
3.2. Systems Resilience
3.3. Complex Adaptive Systems Resilience
3.4. Resilience Frameworks
4. Catchment Resilience
4.1. Complexity Challenges for Catchment Resilience: A Review
- Natural-social-technical aspects: Acknowledging and accounting for the influence and feedback arising from human values, behaviour, culture, infrastructure and institutions;
- Interactions: Accounting for multiple interactions across natural, social, and technical systems; connecting global-scale dynamics to local realities and vice versa;
- Spatial scales: Coverage of multiple spatial scales; connecting contextual, place-based understandings (bottom-up) with theoretical and systemic knowledge (top-down);
- Time scales: Coverage of multiple temporal scales;
- Multiple forms of evidence; and
- Uncertainty: Recognitions of the uncertainty in future projections.
4.2. Studying Catchment Resilience
5. Future Catchment Resilience
5.1. The How of Future Catchment Resilience
- Strategic overview of the contextual issues for a specific catchment to include the natural, social and technical components. This would set the framework for understanding the catchment and estimate where in the natural-social-technical Venn diagram those identified issues reside, which can then inform a deeper analysis and explore feedbacks between exposure, vulnerability and resilience (Figure 2). This could be completed using:
- Indicator methods, which are top-down approaches and may be useful at this broad exploratory stage (e.g., communication capacity as in ; or multiple livelihood sources ). However, indicators can miss deeper issues that could be picked up by also using community workshops or other participatory methods (i.e., bottom-up approaches).
- Natural aspects might be analysed (bearing in mind temporal and spatial scales of assessment) using:
- Methods to map and characterise ecological impacts, knock-on effects and feedbacks from within the natural catchment system .
- Methods to explore the efficacy, and feedbacks from building with nature for increasing resilience.
- Technical aspects might be analysed (bearing in mind temporal and spatial scales of assessment) using:
- Social aspects might be analysed (bearing in mind temporal and spatial scales of assessment) using:
- Human factors methods, such as the Event Analysis of Systemic Teamwork method , to study team operations within governance, or critical services such as emergency response.
- Capabilities Approach framework  to study what capacities are required for local neighbourhood-scale resilience.
- Agent-based modelling to study household-level decision making around the uptake of adaptation measures .
- Interaction analysis would use the domain information from above. However, it needs method development in order to recognise and build interactions. Methods may include
- Systems analysis —where are the functional pinch points, risks, and high-level vulnerabilities within the existing interconnected system structure?
5.2. The Why of Future Catchment Resilience
We have argued for catchments to be considered as complex adaptive systems, consisting of interacting subsystems (natural, social, and technical), which are able to adapt and transform in response to shocks (such as hydrohazards). Our reviews suggest that research from this perspective is in its infancy. If approaches do not begin to acknowledge the “fluid frontiers” and interactions between the natural-social-technical realms, spatial and temporal scales, and bottom-up and top-down approaches, then future assessments may miss substantial opportunities to enhance catchment resilience. Understanding where parts of the system need to be strengthened or where redundancy may enhance or inhibit catchment resilience is critical to maximising its potential for managing climate risks, population growth and other pressures.How can we use catchment resilience as a unifying concept in catchment management and regulation—particularly in light of climate risks, population growth and other pressures?
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Concept||Current State of the Art||Future Next Steps|
|1||Natural-Social-Technical Dimensions||This was the most frequently mentioned challenge to address;|
In particular, papers referred to infrastructure, ecological and economic aspects as critical challenges
|More dimensions should be considered systematically within methods—this should become routine in assessments.|
Specifically, future assessments should consider community impacts and post-hazard infrastructure aspects.
|2||Interactions||Only 1/5 [19%] studies claim to address interactions of any kind;|
Where interactions are considered, these tend to be in studies which consider short-term (hours or days or weeks) shocks
|Future work must link short-term shocks and long-term stressors in assessments.|
This requires new methods which can explicitly link interactions across time scales.
|3||Spatial Scale||Research has tended to have a strong emphasis on regional and community scale analysis;|
Most research which considered spatial scales explicitly had a physical emphasis, i.e., social dynamics and considerations less covered
|Next steps must consider a finer level of scale (e.g., household level) to determine what scale of critical complexity dynamics are necessary to incorporate.|
Additionally, research is needed to incorporate social, behavioural, cognitive, and/or cultural aspects across spatial scales within assessments.
|4||Time Scale||Most research reviewed focused (90% occurrence) on medium-term impacts rather than short-term or long-term impacts||In the future, more focus is needed on short-term (hours or days or weeks) and linking this to medium-term (months or years) as well as longer-term considerations (impacts and interactions).|
|5||Multiple Forms of Evidence||Most approaches used within recent research still relied on classic quantitative methods (e.g., physical measurement and statistical analysis) and simulations||Future work will require the research community to develop methods which integrate participatory methods (bottom-up) and decision-making analyses (top-down) better and more efficiently.|
|6||Uncertainty||Only 22% of research accounts for uncertainty;||Future research must include greater consideration of multiple possible futures.|
Methods must also consider and quantify how uncertainty cascades through different time scales, and across different spatial scales.
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Beevers, L.; Bedinger, M.; McClymont, K.; Visser-Quinn, A. Resilience in Complex Catchment Systems. Water 2021, 13, 541. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13040541
Beevers L, Bedinger M, McClymont K, Visser-Quinn A. Resilience in Complex Catchment Systems. Water. 2021; 13(4):541. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13040541Chicago/Turabian Style
Beevers, Lindsay, Melissa Bedinger, Kerri McClymont, and Annie Visser-Quinn. 2021. "Resilience in Complex Catchment Systems" Water 13, no. 4: 541. https://doi.org/10.3390/w13040541