Response Diversity as a Sustainability Strategy


The authors argue that the most effective way to build general resilience in an increasingly volatile and uncertain world is to foster “response diversity… a system’s variety of responses to disruptions of all kinds.” That entails maintaining a variety of ways to carry out key system process (ideally at different spatial and temporal scales) that each have different vulnerabilities to disturbance. Response diversity involves trade-offs between the ideal use of resources in present conditions versus for unexpected changes, and in targeting some classes of potential shock over others. The authors conclude with seven general principles for building response diversity.


Brian Walker, Anne-Sophie Crépin, Magnus Nyström, John M. Anderies, Erik Andersson, Thomas Elmqvist, Cibele Queiroz, Scott Barrett, Elena Bennett, Juan Camilo Cardenas, Stephen R. Carpenter, F. Stuart Chapin III, Aart de Zeeuw, Joern Fischer, Carl Folke, Simon Levin, Karine Nyborg, Stephen Polasky, Kathleen Segerson, Karen C. Seto, Marten Scheffer, Jason F. Shogren, Alessandro Tavoni, Jeroen van den Bergh, Elke U. Weber, and Jeffrey R. Vincent

Publication Date

30 January 2023


Nature Sustainability (vol. 6)



Resource Type

Academic Journal Article

Systems Addressed

Economy • Ecosystems

Resource Theme

Policy and Practice • Sustainability and Transition
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