Managing for Resilience in Coastal Deltas: Implications of Competing Ecological and Engineering Paradigms
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Coastal deltas are one of the most important landforms both for human settlement and general ecosystem health, which are existentially threatened by onset global change (i.e. Climate change). Therefore, careful consideration in sustainable environmental management strategies must be taken to safeguard them. This report attempted to address a potential bias when utilizing a key term when discussing and crafting these management strategies: “Resilience”. This bias has the potential to undermine the overarching goals of sustainable environmental management within deltas and even within other biophysical systems. Utilizing a systematized literature review found that there is a clear theoretical dichotomy, in management goals and application, between the two prominent paradigms, which are understood as “Ecological” and “Engineering” resilience. 5 performance indicators were then presented for each resilience paradigm as a framework for understanding the level of resilience of 15 coastal deltas for either paradigm. Data for these indicators was then collected from a variety of sources ranging from international organizations (i.e. United Nations) and published papers. The hypothesis of the thesis report inferred a significant negative correlation between the two rankings, which would suggest that the level of resilience in a delta within one paradigm would negatively influence the other. Final results displayed no significant relationship between the two paradigms and thus a statistical conclusion could not be made. Nonetheless, these findings are still useful on a case-by-case basis to understand by which dimensions each delta is lacking within each resilience paradigm. Recommendations were presented to address how to help develop future research into the topic.