Building resilience for social-ecological sustainability in Atlantic Europe

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Scollick, Andrew Dale
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University College Cork
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This thesis argues that complex adaptive social–ecological systems (SES) theory has important implications for the design of integrated ocean and coastal governance in the EU. Traditional systems of governance have struggled to deal with the global changes, complexity and uncertainties that challenge a transition towards sustainability in Europe’s maritime macro-regions. There is an apparent disconnect between governance strategies for sustainability in Europe’s maritime macro-regions and a sound theoretical basis for them. My premise is that the design of governance architecture for maritime regional sustainability should be informed by SES theory. Therefore, the aim of this research was to gain insight into a multilevel adaptive governance architecture that combines notions of sustainability and development in the context of the Atlantic Europe maritime macro-region. The central research question asked whether it is possible to achieve this insight by using a SES as a framework and analytical tool. This research adopted social ecology and sustainability science as a foundation for understanding society–nature relations. Concepts from complex adaptive systems, SES and resilience theories were integrated into a conceptual framework that guided the investigation and analysis. A study was conducted to conceptualise the European Atlantic social–ecological system (EASES). This was used to represent and understand the Atlantic Europe macro-region as a SES. The study examined the proposition that governance can be focused on building SES resilience to help achieve maritime regional sustainability. A workbook method was developed and used to elicit expert opinion regarding EASES. The study identified sources of resilience and resilience dynamics that require management in the context of multilevel adaptive governance. This research found that the Atlantic Europe macro-region is a key focal level for multilevel adaptive governance architecture. The majority of the findings are specific to Atlantic Europe and not generalisable to other maritime macro-regions in Europe.
Atlantic , Coastal , Complex adaptive systems , Europe , European Union , Governance , Integrated Maritime Policy , Macro-region , Macro-regional , Marine , Maritime , Resilience , Social-ecological systems , Sustainability , Sustainable development , Systems
Scollick, A. D. 2016. Building resilience for social-ecological sustainability in Atlantic Europe. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.