Socio-ecological Networks and Resilience of Vulnerable Communities to Global Environmental Change: an Arctic-Alpine Comparison of Social Network Governance (ArcAlpNet)
How can social network analysis help in understanding resilience to global environmental changes in isolated mountain and Arctic island communities?


Isolated mountain and Arctic communities and ecosystems are suggested to be some of the most sensitive to climate change, while historically suffering from economic, cultural and political neglect. It is hypothesized that the peripherality of these communities makes them particularly vulnerable since their adaptive capacity to cope with the rapid changes is limited. In other words, in peripheral areas, low adaptive capacity translates into weak resilience to climate change.

The main hypothesis is that the principal barriers to resilience building are weak social ties and low participation and communication. This hypothesis will be tested by identifying key socio-cultural, relational and behavioural factors that increase or inhibit adaptation and resilience in the two case study regions, the Norwegian Arctic Island of Svalbard and the Surselva- Andermatt Region in Switzerland. The focus will be on contextspecific characteristics of communities’ adaptive capacity and the link to local context-specific characteristics within the existing local social networks and their embeddedness within the broader political and natural environment. Practical outcomes will include interactions with policy makers, leading to specific recommendations for strengthening network governance for adaptive capacity. Communication with wider, non-scientific audiences will engage local people as well.


  • Mountain and arctic communities
  • Climate change
  • Vulnerability
  • Resilience
  • Livelihoods
  • Governance
  • Transdisciplinarity
  • Human ecology
  • Social network analysis


  • Business
  • Communication
  • Cultural Studies
  • Demography
  • Development
  • Economics
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Geography
  • Political science
  • Sociology
  • Statistics


NGOs, States or other Institutions

  • World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) International, Gland
  • World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Arctic Program, Oslo
  • IUCN, Gland
  • Telemarkzone, Freiburg, Germany
  • Svalbard Villmarkssenter, Longyearbyen
  • Projeto San Gottardo, Airolo/Ilanz
  • Freizeitfabrik, Zurich
  • Kanton Graubünden, Amt für Wirtschaft und Tourismus
  • The Governor of Svalbard, Sysselmannen, Norway

Relevant Countries

  • Norway
  • Switzerland


This project, started in 2011, has been completed.

Contact the project team

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Research team

Tobias Luthe
Fachhochschule Ostschweiz

Yvette Evers
Principal Member
Université de Genève

Ilan Kelman
Principal Member
Universitetet i Oslo

Marc Tischhauser
Associated Member

Cecilia Liveriero Lavelli
Université de Genève

Marina Martin Curran
Principal Member
Université de Genève

Eric Layani Berlow
Associated Member
University of California Merced

Miriam Geitz
Associated Member