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Research Integrated Research on Energy, Environment and Society | IREES Research

Resilience and adaptation of social-ecological systems

theme resilience and adaptatoin of social-ecological systems
theme resilience and adaptatoin of social-ecological systems


The world is subject to climate change impacts such as increasing frequency of extreme weather events and other external stressors. Resilience can be defined as the capacity of socio-ecological systems to absorb stress and maintain essential functions and adapt, reorganize, and evolve into more desirable configurations that improve the sustainability of the system, leaving it better prepared for future shocks. Adaptation refers to adjustments in ecological, social, or economic systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli and their effects or impacts. Given the speed of change and the intensifying climate impacts we are starting to see the limits of relatively minor, incremental changes to existing systems and the need for transformative approaches to adaptation. At the same time, communities, business, regions and countries need to consider their unique context and move away from one-size-fits-all solutions.

A key focus of our research has to address vulnerabilities across scale from, for example:

  1. working with local stakeholders in very different social-ecological systems and adopting strategies in response to climate threats, such as new types of urban design.
  2. analyzing and developing different approaches for regional developments to strengthen ecosystem services and improving resilience of landscapes; to
  3. evaluating different global adaptation and mitigation strategies to specific stressors such as lockdown measures to the covid-19 pandemic and links to global climate mitigation targets.

Theme contact persons

Projects related to this theme


‘Local Energy Communities: Responsible Innovation Towards Sustainable Energy’. The main objective of this project is to align social and technical innovation through investigating the innovative potential of local energy initiatives in terms of technology, social embeddedness and normativity as well as researching the innovative potential of emerging sustainable energy technologies, including their social and normative dimensions. [link to project website]

Contact person: Dr. H.J. (Henny) van der Windt.

Neighborhood Heat (Buurtwarmte)

This project explores social, economic and technical questions related to district heating. By taking the user’s perspective as a starting point, the support for this type of sustainable district heating may be increased. The aim of the project is to gain insight into the processes that determine the design and execution of a heat network, the relationship between them and the possibilities for greater involvement of residents and energy cooperatives.

Contact person: H.J. (Henny) van der Windt.

Last modified:01 December 2021 12.09 p.m.