Derek Armitage


Derek Armitage Community ResearchDerek Armitage is Associate Professor in the Department of Environment and Resource Studies at the University of Waterloo where he leads the Environmental Change and Governance Group ( and is a Senior Fellow and was the past Working Group Leader of the Oceans Management Research Network (Canada).

His research interests centre on the human dimensions of environmental change, the formation of adaptive, multi-level governance systems, and the challenge of integrating conservation and development. His primary geographic is Southeast Asia, northern Canada, and the Caribbean.

He has served as a consultant on a variety of projects for government agencies in Canada, the Global Environmental Facility (World Bank), ADB and IADB. He is co-editor of Adaptive Co-Management: Collaboration, Learning and Multi-Level Governance and Adaptive Capacity and Environmental Governance.


Multiple places (southeast Asia, Arctic)


My research explores the human dimensions of environmental change with an emphasis on coastal-marine and freshwater systems. The problem of ‘fit’ is a central interest – how governance systems and institutions can better match the dynamics of biophysical systems. In this context, I am interested in how to foster the emergence of collaborative and adaptive governance arrangements to address cross-scale drivers of social and ecological change, and to catalyze transformations in coastal-marine and freshwater systems that sustain human wellbeing and maintain the ecosystem services upon which we depend. Resilience and social-ecological system approaches, political ecology, commons theory and environmental governance provide the interdisciplinary foundations with which I examine community-based resource use strategies and drivers of change; design tools to understand vulnerability and adaptive capacity of individuals and communities; analyze networks of actors and processes of knowledge co-production; and assess governance arrangements to improve opportunities for learning and collaboration among resource users, government actors and researchers. In collaboration with graduate students and colleagues, I work on a wide range of projects in SE Asia, the Caribbean and northern Canada, including a SSHRC-funded project on Marine Transformations and Adaptive Governance, the IDRC/SSHRC-funded Partnership for Canada-Caribbean Community Climate Change Adaptation (ParCA), the ArcticNet-funded Adaptation in a Changing Arctic: Ecosystem Services, Communities and Policy (ArcticNet), and CIDA-CGIAR Linkage Fund project, Governing Small-scale Fisheries for Wellbeing and Resilience (see

Key Publications

  • Armitage, D., de Loë, R. and R. Plummer. 2012. Environmental governance and its implications for conservation practice. Conservation Letters. 5(4): 245–255
  • Armitage, D., Bene, C., Charles, T., Johnson, D., E. Allison. 2012. The interplay of wellbeing and resilience in applying a social-ecological perspective. Ecology and Society. 17(4): 15.
  • Armitage, D., Berkes, F., Dale, A., Kocho-Schellenberg, E. and E. Patton. 2011. Co-management and the co-production of knowledge: Learning to adapt in Canada’s Arctic. Global Environmental Change. 21: 995–1004.
  • Armitage, D. and R. Plummer. (Eds.). Adaptive Capacity and Environmental Governance. Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg.
  • Armitage, D. Plummer, R., Berkes, F., Arthur, R., Charles, A., Davidson-Hunt, I., Diduck, A., Doubleday, N., Johnson, D., Marschke, M., McConney, P., Pinkerton, E. and L. Wollenberg. Adaptive co-management for social-ecological complexity. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 7(2): 95-102.