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Prof Reinette (Oonsie) Biggs

Inaugural lecture:

August 5, 2019 @ 17:3018:00

Department of Economics, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences

Resilience: An approach to navigating towards more just and sustainable futures in the Anthropocene

We live in the Anthropocene, a new geological era where the increasing scale, speed and connectivity of human activities are profoundly changing the functioning of the Earth. The economic, political and cultural processes underlying these changes are also leading to growing social inequalities and the breakdown of traditional relations that can provide support and meaning in people’s lives. At the same time, they are also creating a variety of social innovations and technological developments, which are opening up exciting opportunities for addressing these challenges. Resilience is a key concept that has emerged for navigating the novel and turbulent conditions of the Anthropocene and fostering transformations toward more sustainable and just development pathways. Resilience refers to the capacity to navigate change and uncertainty through investing in systemic features such as diversity, connectivity and learning. One innovative example of the application of a resilience approach is the Seeds of Good Anthropocenes project (https://goodanthropocenes.net). Through a series of transdisciplinary workshops and an online campaign, a wide variety of ‘seeds’ are being catalogued – real initiatives that demonstrate elements of a positive future. Using these seeds, a suite of provocative alternative visions for ‘good Anthropocenes’ have been developed through a novel participatory visioning approach. This presentation briefly introduces the concept of the Anthropocene and resilience as a strategy for building systemic capacity to navigate change and uncertainty. It then illustrates how the resilience approach is being applied in the Seeds of Good Anthropocenes project to identify actions that have the potential to leverage deep systemic change towards more positive futures.


Short biography

Prof. Reinette (Oonsie) Biggs currently holds the DST/NRF South African Research Chair in Social-Ecological Systems and Resilience, and is an NRF p-rated scientist. She is based in the Centre for Complex Systems in Transition at Stellenbosch University and is also affiliated with the Stockholm Resilience Centre in Sweden. She currently co-chairs the Science Committee of the international Program on Ecosystem Change and Society, leads the Southern African Program on Ecosystem Change and Society and serves on the South African Global Change Science Committee, the Board of Directors of the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics in Sweden and the scientific board of the international Resilience Alliance, and was a coordinating lead author for the recent Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services assessment. Oonsie was born in Windhoek, Namibia, and from the age of 11 lived in Skukuza in the Kruger National Park. She completed her undergraduate degree in Geography and Environmental Science through the University of South Africa, her honours degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and her master’s degree at the University of the Witwatersrand. She then relocated to the USA to complete her PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, followed by a postdoctorate at the newly formed Stockholm Resilience Centre, where she subsequently held a research position until joining Stellenbosch University.


August 5, 2019

Organizer (event)

Lesinda Daniels
021 808 9564


Room1046, Van der Sterr Building, Bosman Street, Stellenbosch
12 Bosman Street
Stellenbosch, Western Cape 7600 South Africa
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Department of Economics, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences