• Lenka Janyskova
Resilience has been acknowledged as the key to sustainability and the concept is being incorporated in climate change adaptation projects. Nevertheless, there is a lack of research on how resilience is applied in the development projects settings and how it actually contributes to the resilience of local systems.
The thesis addresses this gap by examining the case of six community-based adaptation projects in Bolivia (2008 – 2012) that were financed by the Global Environmental Facility. Concretely, the goal is to examine how the application of the resilience principles in the projects contributes to greater resilience of the local communities and the environment. It is done so by examining presence of resilience principles in the projects and then using the findings to discuss the effect of the principles with the theory of resilience thinking and the past studies on the topic in Bolivia. In this way, the thesis is meant to contribute to a greater understanding of how climate adaptation projects can be best implemented to increase the resilience of local systems.
To understand the problem, I employ the theory of resilience thinking and its related concepts, and to account for the development aid context, I use the concept of community-based adaptation. The data is represented by the project documents of the six community-based adaptation projects financed by the GEF between 2008 and 2012 in Bolivia. The documents are analyzed within the framework of a cross-sectional comparative research design with elements of a case study. They are analyzed using content analysis with the resilience principles as themes.
Generally, I found that the projects have a potential to enhance resilience of the local social-ecological systems by promoting the diversity and redundancy of the systems’ components (e.g. knowledge systems, management practices, livelihoods), facilitating the interactions within and between the social and ecological domains, fostering holistic understanding of the world and unpredictability which translates into the sustainable natural resource management practices, enganging the people and building their capacity to adapt, transform and take action, and promoting self-organization of the relevant actors.
Yet, not all the principles were present in all the projects. I found that two projects (Alto Seco and Saipina) contained aspects of all the principles and therefore, have potential to increase the resilience of the local communities and the environment by holistically addressing and enhancing the processes in both the ecological and social domain. Resilience in the four project sites without the principle of polycentricity may be hindered by the lack of collective action and self-organization. In addition, the projects in Carabuco and Moro Moro lack the principle of complex adaptive thinking. It means that the communities’ understanding of the world they live in as a complex entity with nonlinear unpredictable behavior may be limited and can cause mechanistic management of the local resources which certainly undermines resilience of the system.
There are some conditions under which the positive effect of the adaptation projects would hold true. Firstly, all the actors and knowledge systems have to be treated equally and respected, without enforcement of the external knowledge. Second, the power relations within the systems have to be addressed. Third, the comprehensibility of climate change and human adaptation has to be ensured. Fourth, the goals and purpose of the actions and activities have to be clear. Fifth, the natural resources have to be managed holistically.
Lastly, I recommend investigation of the possibilities for incorporation of the resilience principles into the assessments related to adaptation projects because as I have shown, they facilitate greater understanding of the complex relations between the communities and their environment which is much needed under the current climatic variability.
SpecialisationLatin American Studies
Publication date2019
Number of pages75
ID: 304746467