Vulnerability assessments performed for long term environmental changes in the global, sub global, national or local level regularly employ up-scaling and down-scaling of information.
Such techniques do not always account for the interplay of the factors across the levels in
different scales. As a result, the current studies may give an incomplete understanding of the dynamics of a complex adaptive system (CAS) that is responsible for shaping its vulnerability to a risk. This working paper is an attempt to understand the concepts of dynamic complexity in a CAS and reasons for complementarity and contrast when observed through different scales of analysis. Through a literature survey we arrive at a point that there is no single solution in scientific studies or management approaches for understanding and solving systemic problems in a CAS like socio-ecological system (SES). This leads us to look towards approaches that facilitate learning from different understandings of the same problem and negotiation among groups with different viewpoints. Finally, a case of an agro-ecosystem in the Brahmaputra basin in India is cited to illustrate such complexity and problems for decision making for adaptation.
We pose three research questions-
• How can we have an integrated model of the causal mechanisms that lead to an
irreversible change in a multilevel SES?
• How do we form an appropriate and acceptable strategy for adaptation when the state of a system changes?
• What is the appropriate form of governance which can maintain the ecological resilience
for adaptation during periods of environmental change?
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