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Such acknowledgment of the limits of knowing and steering, led to the popularity of another concept: resilience. Resilience does not assume a steady state, or one perfect equilibrium for the socio- ecological system. A resilient system is one that can bounce back after disaster, be it a natural, economic or social disaster. It does not necessarily mean going back to an original state, but to another acceptable equilibrium between social and ecological systems. To foster resilience, the proponents say, we need to organize our governance systems for adaptive governance. Adaptive governance can mean that the governance system has to be ready to come up with adaptation strategies after this or that disaster (say, floods or drought), and it can mean that the governance system itself has to be adaptive, change configurations easily when the social or ecological environment demands this. In that last version, the transformation rules of the governance system become crucial, as adaptive capacity and stability of the governance system can only be combined if there is: -

High observational capacity and reflexivity in governance, Varied expertise present Flexible inclusion/ exclusion of new actors and expertise A wide range of institutions to address a wide variety of situations A continuous deliberation on what can change, what stays the same A continuous revision of institutions, and of transformation rules, rules to change the rules

Truly adaptive governance for resilience then seems to require communities who are very engaged in such demanding enterprise. It seems to involve also big government, per definition, and at the same time a big government, with lots of experts and policies, plans and laws, which can adjust itself easily. We cannot say exactly what that would look like, since nobody knows. We can say that there are inherent tensions here, as bigger and more complex bureaucracies have the tendency to keep all their parts in place, while the parts are all competing for a more central place. If a new adaptation entails the shrinking of the water ministry, or the local planning department, these people will fight it hard. If an environmental law has to be changed overnight, an army of lawyers and politicians will look very carefully if this is possible at all, compatible with other laws, with procedural law. Changing procedures to change laws can easily undermine democracy. And this holds true for other aspects of pure adaptive governance. It is easy to give a small group of experts the power to define when an adaptation is needed, and how to do that. Yet, most often, what we read under the heading ‘adaptive governance’, or ‘resilience planning’, has a formulaic character, the character of a simple recipe, which is expected to bring resilience. It does not seem

Part V: Development approaches for inspiration and guidance

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