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Original training : :
Graduate School Gay Lussac, University of La Rochelle
Masters degree in environmental sciences – Geography, University of La Rochelle, France

PhD thesis 2010-2014
Team : AGÎLE

Keywords: resilience, social-ecological system, climate change, natural hazard, conceptual model, complexity, SIDS, atoll, Kiribati, Pacific islands
GéoKiribati project : GeoKiribati
PhD supervisor :
Virginie Duvat, Professor, University of La Rochelle, LIENSs UMR 7266
Funding : ministry grant

The resilience of social-ecological systems of atoll states in the context of climate change. The case of Kiribati (South Pacific)
 The threats to states entirely composed of atolls from climate change and associated sea-level rise have been widely publicized. The Republic of Kiribati is an atoll country situated in Pacific Ocean settled by 100,000 inhabitants. Over the past centuries, the atoll communities of Kiribati have developed natural resource management systems that have enabled their survival. Over the past decades, globalization has caused rapid changes, especially regarding lifestyles and relationships of atoll communities to their natural environment. Given the highly integrated nature of the societal system and the ecosystem in the atolls, this thesis addresses the question of the future of atoll countries in the context of climate change by studying the resilience of their social-ecological systems (SES). Resilience is the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure, identity, and feedbacks. This thesis postulated that an assessment of social-ecological resilience of climate- and marine-related disturbances required a preliminary description of the structure of SES. Such description and assessments of resilience were based on conceptual models made from interviews and surveys and from the analysis of aerial imagery. The future of atoll countries is discussed considering different scenario: adaptation, transformation, migration and collapse.

Main results of the PhD thesis :

  • Conceptual models of an urban atoll SES and a rural atoll SES (causal loop diagram)
  • Assessment of specific resilience of both atoll SES to droughts and flooding
  • Assessment of general resilience of both atoll SES: controlling variables, thresholds, regime shift
  • Multiscale analysis of atoll SES in Gilbert with two heuristic tools: adaptive cycle and panarchy

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Teaching experience : 2010-2012: Teaching assistant in geography, University of La Rochelle, France:
- Introductory in human geography: main concepts, varied case studies, reading landscapes, maps.

Publications :

  • Longépée E. et Duvat V., 2013, Recomposition des territorialités rurales dans un petit État insulaire en développement : les Kiribati (océan Pacifique), p. 185-198 in Charlery de la Masselière B., Thibaud B. et Duvat V. (dir.), Dynamiques rurales dans les pays du Sud, l’enjeu territorial, Presses Universitaires du Mirail, Toulouse, 410 p.
  • Longépée E., 2010, Adaptive strategies of local communities to coastal hazards in an atoll countries : the Kiribati. Conférence internationale Littoral.2010, Adapting to global change at the coast, Londres, Royaume-Uni, 21-23 septembre 2010, 8 p. (online)

Oral Communications :

  • Longépée E., 2014, The contribution of resilience thinking to the challenging future of atoll countries: the case of Kiribati (Micronesia). Resilience 2014, resilience and development: mobilizing for transformation, Montpellier, France.
  • Longépée E., 2013, L’apport de la résilience à l’étude des risques d’origine météo-marine affectant les microsociétés insulaires : le cas de Kiribati (Micronésie). 9e rencontres Géorisque, les Doctoriales du risque, Montpellier, France.
  • Longépée E., 2011, The effects of environmental degradation on social vulnerability : the case of Kiribati (South Pacific). 2e colloque international, Integrated coastal zone management, Arendal, Norvège.
  • Longépée E. et Duvat V., 2011, Recomposition des territorialités rurales dans un petit État insulaire en développement : les Kiribati (océan Pacifique). Colloque international des 13e Journée de Géographie Tropicale, Territorialités rurales des Suds en question, Toulouse, France.
  • Longépée E., 2010, Adaptive strategies of local communities to coastal hazards in an atoll countries : the Kiribati. Colloque international Littoral.2010, Adapting to global change at the coast : leadership, innovation, and investment, Londres, Royaume-Uni.