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in Sustainable Science
The social – ecological systems (SES) framework (Ostrom 2009, Science. 325(5939):419 – 22) typologically decomposes SES characteristics into nested, tiered constituent variables. Yet, aligning the framework’s concepts of resource system (RS) and resource unit (RU) with realities of individual case studies poses challenges if the underlying SES is not a single RS, but a mid to large-scale nested RS (NRS). Using a diagnostic approach, we describe NRSs — and the activities and networks of adjacent action situations (NAAS) containing them. An NRS includes the larger RS and multiple interlinked semi-autonomous subsidiary RSs, each of which support simultaneous, differently managed appropriation of individual RUs. We further identify NAASs operating within NRSs in two diverse empirical cases — networks of lake systems in Bengaluru, India and German wheat breeding systems — representing a lever towards understanding transformation of SESs into sustainable futures. This paper contributes towards unpacking and diagnosing complexities within mid to large-scale RSs and their governance. It provides a generalizable, rigorous approach to SES case study analyses, thereby advancing methods for synthesis in sustainability science.
Cite this article: Unnikrishnan, H., Katharina Gerullis, M., Cox, M. et al. Unpacking dynamics of diverse nested resource systems through a diagnostic approach. Sustain Sci (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-022 – 01268‑y
Rethinking inclusivity and justice agendas in restoration of urban ecological commons: A case study of Bangalore lakes
in Lakes and Reservoirs: Research and Management
The present study analyses civic and community-based initiatives in conserving urban ecological commons in India, which have been increasingly polluted, encroached upon and degraded because of rapid land-use transformations. Bangalore, a city in south India, has one of the largest networks of manmade lakes, some of which are restored and managed by citizen groups, civil society, environmental activists and voluntary private bodies. The restoration process interfaces with urban policy making, shaping predominant management agendas in association with the State. Community initiatives in conserving the lakes are not only well-organised, but also play a crucial role in making city commons vibrant and integral nodes of cultural and social identification. However, the contemporary management system involving citizen groups in lake conservation is largely at odds with the tradition of community-managed lake systems previously existing in the city, which have eroded as the city became industrialised and increased in size and population, resulting in rapid landscape transformations. Against this background, the present study aims to illustrate that a seemingly representative community management of city ecologies is often embedded in an overwhelming political context. It also discusses the need for an urgent deconstruction to better understand how overtly flexible and dynamic restoration actions interact with inequality, power and conflicts. The results of the present study emphasise that the current participatory and community-driven initiatives of ecological restoration in Indian cities unfortunately accord limited significance to the overarching questions of social justice and relations of power.
Resilience and conservation of urban commons: Lessons from three community-restored lakes in Bengaluru
This chapter discusses collective and multiactor interventions by local communities in Bengaluru, in conserving urban ecological commons — specifically, urban lakes — which provides a range of services to residents, as well as protecting the overall resilience of the city. Bengaluru, which once had an agrarian ecological landscape nourished by a large network of interconnected rainwater harvesting structures — tanks or lakes, has now grown to a megacity. Rapid urbanization has been accompanied by conversion of many of these lakes into other forms of land use, with a decline in the functioning of lakes and their surrounding reliant socio-ecological systems. With the import of piped water to the city since the early 20th century, lakes lost much of their perceived relevance for policymakers. Waste discharge and sewage eventually polluted most of the lakes and choked the overflow channels that connected lakes along a topographic gradient, reducing the flow of water. In recent years, spurred by a resurgent awareness of the importance of lakes, a growing number of civic and community efforts have resulted in lake restoration, in collaboration with the Government.