Since the industrial revolution, humanity had witnessed rapid economic development and technological advancement; but the gains have come at a price. This rising concern gave birth to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in order to address pertinent issue centres on sustainable development. This review begins by giving an in-depth overview of the ecosystem, as a working structural and functional unit. It presents its discussion within the resilience concept, sustainable development, ecological sustainability and adaptive development. It describes the profound imprint we humans have had on nature and ideas on how to deal with the resulting challenges from a socio-ecological perspective. It conclude that managing complex, coevolving social-ecological systems for sustainability requires the ability to cope with, adapt to and shape change without losing options for future development. It suggested that the two useful tools for resilience-building in complex, unpredictable systems are structured scenarios and active adaptive management.