Community resilience and adaptation

Resilient communities are capable of bouncing back from adverse situations. They can do this by actively influencing and preparing for economic, social and environmental change. When times are bad they can call upon the myriad of resouces that make them a healthy community. A high level of social capital means that they have access to good information and communication networks in times of difficulty, and can call upon a wide range of resources. The papers and reports linked to here recognise resilience as being people-centered, and highlight the importance of thinking about the social actors involved and their agency – social dynamics, power and politics.

A number of other papers that extend this ideas of community resilience to adapt to change through self-organization and learning can be found from related pages on the site. For example, other key pages look at adaptation and social learning. The main index on the left points to related topic areas that can support the achievement of these ideas in practice.

Community resilience: Understanding the Concept and its Application
This 2011 discussion paper by Alastair McAslan emphasises that disaster resilience involves society as a whole – it is not solely the domain of governments, local authorities and the emergency services. The paper proposes a framework involving three sets of capital (physical, procedural and social) which can be used by communities in times of need.

Community Disaster Resilience: a Systematic Review on Assessment Models and Tools
This 2015 paper by Abbas Ostadtaghizadeh and colleagues  reviews studies conducted using the resilience concept and examines the tools, models, and methods adopted. It examines the domains, indicators, and indices that have been considered in the tools, and provides a critical analysis of the assessment tools available for evaluating community disaster resilience (CDR).

Assessing community resilience to climate change
This 2012 paper by Karen Vella reminds us that capacity to manage the possible shocks associated with the impacts of climate change and extreme climatic events is emerging and needs to be carefully fostered and further developed to achieve broader community resilience outcomes.

The Community and Regional Resilience Insitute (CARRI)
CARRI is a new program being lead by the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in conjunction with a variety of other partners. The goal of CARRI is to help develop and then share critical paths that any community or region may take to strengthen its ability to prepare for, respond to, and rapidly recover from significant man-made or natural disasters with minimal downtime to basic community, government and business services.

Building Resilience in Rural Communities: Toolkit
This toolkit is the outcome of a three year research project examining resilience in the rural community of Stanthorpe in Queensland. It consists of a series of information sheets explaining the purpose of the toolkit and outlining 11 resilience concepts found to be pivotal in enhancing individual and community resilience. The toolkit is designed to be used by program co-ordinators such as community workers, health professionals, and others working with individuals and groups and community leaders. It can be used in a number of ways – in existing programs, making modifications to include resilience concepts and in new programs to assist in the selecting of concepts most relevant to the program.

How Resilient Is Your Coastal Community? A Guide for Evaluating Coastal Community Resilience to Tsunamis and Other Hazards
This Coastal Community Resilience (CCR) Guide was developed, building on lessons learned and experience gained in the Indian Ocean region after the 2004 tsunami, to address coastal hazards and reduce risk to vulnerable communities. The framework described in this CCR guide posits 8 elements of resilience, was developed in partnership with institutions throughout the Indian Ocean region, and is already beginning to guide development along Asian coasts most in need of building resilience. The results of the CCR assessment process outlined in this guide can fit easily into and enhance development plans for any given coastal area, and can thereby complement traditional planning processes used by local and national governments.

Does adaptive management of natural resources enhance resilience to climate change?
This paper by Emma Tompkins and Neil Adger suggests that building resilience into both human and ecological systems is an effective way to cope with environmental change characterized by future surprises or unknowable risks. The authors review perspectives on collective action for natural resource management to inform understanding of climate response capacity. They demonstrate the importance of social learning, specifically in relation to the acceptance of strategies that build social and ecological resilience. Finally, using the example of community-based coastal management in Trinidad and Tobago they demonstrates that community-based management enhances adaptive capacity in two ways: by building networks that are important for coping with extreme events and by retaining the resilience of the underpinning resources and ecological systems.

A number of other sections in the site follow-on naturally from a consideration of resilience. Two useful tools for resilience-building in complex socio-ecological systems are structured scenarios and adaptation and adaptive management. People use scenarios to envision alternative futures and the pathways by which they might be reached. By envisioning a range of alternative futures and actions that might achieve or avoid certain outcomes, communities can identify and choose resilience-building policies. Active adaptive management can be used as an approach that views policy as a set of experiments designed to reveal processes that build or sustain resilience. It requires, and facilitates, a social context with flexible and open institutions and multi-level governance systems that allows for social learning.