Promoting adaptability

In seeking solutions to problems, local authorities should first look to the adaptations and responses of their own citizens. Citizens and their community organizations, positioned outside of the established, formal structures of government and industry and facing the actual daily conditions of life in the ecosystem, are often in the best position to create indigenous innovations to solve local problems.
The species in natural systems adapt both genetically and culturally to their environments, permitting them to thrive within their unique habitat and niche.

The density stress conditions in many urban ecosystems require a strong capacity for adaptation. Humans are extremely adaptable, relying more upon culture and technology than upon genetic change to adapt to rapidly changing environmental conditions. Local government systems do not always support and encourage the application of community adaptations to local conditions. Local governments often act to preserve the establish formal standards and systems of operations and respond defensively to indigenous adaptations.

In many cities of the developing world, squatters have responded to their poverty and the failure of formal waste collection and disposal systems by becoming scavengers who make their living by separating recyclable materials from the waste stream and selling these to secondary users for small amounts of money. Rather than treating scavenger activities as an elegant adaptation to an appalling waste crises in their cities, many city governments have disallowed and even violently prohibited scavenger activities. In recent years, however, the formal managers in cities like Cairo, Egypt, and Bandung and Surabaya, Indonesia have recognized the value of this informal adaptation, and have started to provide scavengers with the means to become a more effective component of the municipal waste management system.
Type Classification:
E: Emanations of other strategies