Using a Systems Thinking Approach to Increase Coastal Community Resilience against Environmental Shocks: A Case Study of Valiathura Coastal Area, India
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Amrita School for Sustainable Futures, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Amritapuri, Kerala, India
Ammachilabs/Center for Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality (CWEGE), Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Amritapuri, Kerala, India
Sustainable Development and Diplomacy, EUCLID
District Natural Resources Office, Mityana District Local Government, Uganda
Faculty of Education and Humanities, Gulu University, Gulu, Uganda
Submission date: 2023-10-20
Final revision date: 2023-11-28
Acceptance date: 2023-11-30
Publication date: 2024-02-09
Corresponding author
Baker Matovu   

Amrita School for Sustainable Futures, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Amritapuri, Kerala, India
Acta Sci. Pol. Formatio Circumiectus 2024;23(1):3-18
  • Coastal communities are increasingly becoming vulnerable to environmental shocks.
  • Current policies on resilience are mainly linear negating the ability of coastal communities to develop resilience mechanisms.
  • Our novel 3 Horizon Framework of Systems thinking could be key in understanding the causal-effect relationship of environmental shocks and how to develop sustainable and transformative actions for system change.
Aim of the study:
Globally, the increasing environmental shocks in coastal zones of tropical regions are crippling human-ecological systems’ interactions that promote sustainable development. The uni-dimensional nature of environmental shocks is increasing the environmental vulnerabilities of coastal people who heavily depend on marine and environmental resources. Current policies on resilience are mainly linear thus negating coastal communities’ ability to develop synergies for adaptation and mitigation.

Material and methods:
We used the Iceberg model of systems thinking to identify local system dynamics in relation to vulnerability to environmental shocks and the 3 Horizons framework to qualitatively identify the preferred options that can lead to a preferred future involving avenues for increasing women’s resilience to environmental shocks in coastal areas, using Valiathura in Kerala as a case study.

Results and conclusions:
We developed a novel Three Horizon (3H) framework that links current system indicators in Valiathura, which could be used to understand environmental shocks and how to navigate through such shocks. Based on the developed framework, we identified possible pathways in Valiathura that can be used by coastal people and regions in other jurisdictions to promote sustainable change from Horizon 1, and 2 to Horizon 3 such as increasing women’s knowledge of environmental shocks and leveraging the historical strategies used by coastal women to increase resilience against environmental shocks. Therefore, to develop sustainable actions in coastal zones affected by environmental shocks, a focus on understanding the dynamics of the system is key to understanding system interactions and feedback that can inform actions, which promote transformative change, for instance, related to adaptation and mitigation.

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