Interplay between ecological and economic resilience and sustainability and the role of institutions. Evidence from two resource based communities in the Swiss Alps

Alpine communities often concentrate only a few sectors that are resource-dependent, such as tourism, construction, agriculture and energy that makes them vulnerable not only to external and internal shocks but also to resource exploitation and ecological distress. The danger of exploitation rises with the opportunities of economic benefit in these regions. This paper contributes to the discussion on economic and ecological resilience and sustainability in resource dependent communities in the Swiss Alps. While human agency and institutions are proposed to be the key for change and regional development, only a limited number of studies have been conducted to investigate these micro processes in more detail. The case study shows that collective agency in adaptation processes is most likely to occur on the base of active participation of affected actors and established but flexible institutions that frame these processes and counterbalance (economic and ecological) interests. Moreover, organizational capabilities of community officials and adequate resource allocation seem to play a major role.