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Resilience is a key concept to understand socioecological systems – SES- worldwide, massively implemented in public policies as a positive concept to reach. The application of this concept in war countries has been used by psychologist to understand the trauma during and after wars, or social and environmental problems excluding war impacts. One of the ways to understand resilience is to use the adaptive cycle metaphor to study SES dynamics. Here, based on secondary sources such as books, scientific articles, and press articles, we use this metaphor to understand the resilience of Colombia SES and its different war-peace trajectories. And, also, after a content analysis of the environmental public policies at national scale, we analyze the public policies since the 20th century using the adaptive cycle metaphor.

The use of the adaptive cycle and the description of the different phases show that war in Colombia has been long and the Colombian SES trajectory was not transformed. A national-scale war is part of the SES identity and peace works as the collapse phase in the adaptive cycle. Colombia's SES suffered two cycles of war while the policies were static and supported deforestation. Peace processes have ignored forests’ key role during the war as protectors of local communities and guerrillas, and as an unlimited provider of resources for the country. These conditions have allowed the country to engage in multiple wars and made inequality and deforestation the resilient features of the system. During the growth phase of the adaptive cycle, civil society, the state, illegal armed groups, and rural communities are connected for the unequal access to resources and power raising gradually the sense of injustice mixed with a military culture. The economic growth does not care for forests and rural dynamics. Until the 90 decades, forests were mainly considered as lands to be exploited and, local communities were took-for incapable of exploiting them, which justified their exclusion from the economic model implemented.

Thus, we argue that one part of the Colombian SES is adapted to the war to survive, and another one, -the powerful one- is resilient to peace. The comprehension of the public policies with the adaptive cycle lens allows understanding of how policies are made for the national levels and how slow they influence the negative tendencies, taking ages to change the trajectory of the system to a socio-ecological sustainable one.


Adaptive cycle, Environmental public policies, peace, war, Colombia

Maria Pereira, MARIE-GABRIELLE PIKETTY, François Bousquet, Daniel Castillo

Presentation within symposium:

S-39 Analysing the effects of armed conflict in forest cover, land-use and biodiversity conservation in Colombia

What is resilient in a country chronically at war? An application of the adaptive cycle to understand the Socio-Ecological System


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