Saturday, February 16, 2013

Resilience - what it is, and what it could be.

What is resilience and how do you put that into practice? Here are links to three publications that speak to resilience in the context of addressing climate change in cities and what it means in terms of planning and implementation. Resilience is not just "getting back on one's feet and returning to what you had before" but rather an opportunity for fundamental change - or to use the current buss phrase, an opportunity for transformation.

Link to PDF File

The term resilience is increasingly applied in thinking through how to deal with climate change. On one level it can be applied as a way of bridging the historic al divide that has existed between climate mitigation and climate adaptation. Climate resilience refers to both actions that reduce climate impacts as well as actions to respond to climate impacts. Resilience can be seen as a process of learning and innovation—we can always be more resilient. 

There are different definitions of resilience in various disciplines. Reviewing the way s in which the term resilience has been defined is useful for understanding the challenge of dealing with climate change. 

Importantly both of the definitions provided on the facing page emphasize the capabilities to learn and anticipate, as well as to respond to change. 


Climate change will have unavoidable impacts on urban systems and populations, especially in Asia where many large cities are exposed. Climate adaptation will be essential, and planning for adaptation can be simplified through operationalizing concepts of climate resilience and vulnerability. This article reviews concepts and theories in a range of diverse fields to illustrate how the general notion of urban climate resilience can be developed into an operational framework for planning practitioners. The framework integrates theoretical and empirical knowledge of the factors contributing to resilience with processes for translating those concepts into practice. The framework includes characteristics of urban systems, the agents (people and organizations) that depend on and manage those systems, institutions that link systems and agents, and patterns of exposure to climate change. It operationalizes these concepts through structured and iterative shared learning approaches that allow local planners to define these factors in their own context, in order to develop practical strategies for local action. The viability of the framework is demonstrated through examples from resilience planning activities undertaken in 10 cities across Asia through the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.

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