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.

www_iconCommunity 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.

www_iconThe Community and Regional Resilience Insitute (CARRI): Reports 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. The following reports are available for download directly, or to gain a summary of them first go to the CARRI resilience report page:

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.

The Community Resilience Manual: A Resource for Rural Recovery & Renewal In November 1999, the Canadian-based Centre for Community Enterprise released in draft form The Community Resilience Manual from this site. Over 500 communities, government agencies, researchers, and CED practitioners downloaded the draft in portable document format (PDF) in the subsequent 12 months. The base dimensions are people, organizations, resources and community process. Each dimension is then analysed against characteristics that have been demonstrated to be predictive of resilience. Although specifically addressed to the rural communities of British Columbia, the Manual offered valuable assistance to any small community (including some in Australia and New Zealand) that wanted to make better decisions about mobilizing and investing its resources.

How Resilient Is Your Coastal Community? A Guide for Evaluating Coastal Community Resilience to Tsunamis and Other Hazards PDF icon 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. A summary newsletter version is available.

www_iconOntario Healthy Communities Coalition This series of factsheets highlight the importance of resilient communities as healthy communities capable of “bouncing back” from adverse situations by actively influencing and preparing for economic, social and environmental change. Fact sheets are then provided for the key elements of resilience. Social capital provides a community with an informed communications network and access to a wide range of resources, beyond the traditional labour market, during times of crisis. A high-level of community capacity will set the framework for quick disaster relief and information sharing through community networks. Well-planned urban development and sustainable environmental practices help diminish the effects of disasters by mitigating toxic run-off and erosion, among other factors. And finally useful evaluation can be used to examine current programs to determine if they are fostering resilience.

www_iconDoes 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.

www_iconRoots of resilience: Growing the wealth of the poor World Resources 2008 argues that properly designed enterprises can create economic, social, and environmental resilience that cushion the impacts of climate change, and help provide needed social stability. The report argues for three key elements that can support more resilient people. The first is ownership – a groundwork of good governance that both transfers to the poor real authority over local resources and elicits local demand for better management of these resources. Making good on this demand requires unlocking and enabling local capacity for development. The third element is connection: establishing adaptive networks that connect and nurture nature-based enterprises, giving them the ability to adapt, learn, link to markets, and mature into businesses that can sustain themselves and enter the economic mainstream.

Concepts and practices of “resilience”: a compilation from various secondary sources This overview document was prepared by Atiq Kainan Ahmed for the Coastal Community Resilience Coordination Workshop, Bangkok, Thailand, May May 23-25, 2006, Bangkok, Thailand. It covers definitions, discourses and provides an introduction to models and frameworks.

Social and ecological resilience: are they related? This article by Neil Adger defines social resilience as the ability of groups or communities to cope with external stresses and disturbances as a result of social, political and environmental change. This definition highlights social resilience in relation to the concept of ecological resilience which is a characteristic of ecosystems to maintain themselves in the face of disturbance. There is a clear link between social and ecological resilience, particularly for social groups or communities that are dependent on ecological and environmental resources for their livelihoods. But it is not clear whether resilient ecosystems enable resilient communities in such situations. This article examines whether resilience is a useful characteristic for describing the social and economic situation of social groups and explores potential links between social resilience and ecological resilience. The origins of this interdisciplinary study in human ecology, ecological economics and rural sociology are reviewed, and a study of the impacts of ecological change on a resource-dependent community in contemporary coastal Vietnam in terms of the resilience of its institutions is outlined.


Urban governance for adaptation: assessing climate change resilience in ten Asian cities This research, undertaken by Thomas Tanner and colleagues with a set of partner research institutes, examines how to manage climate-related impacts in an urban context by promoting planned and autonomous adaptation in order to by improve resilience in a changing climate. Based on this work, the authors argue that a number of key characteristics can be identified to assess and build urban resilience to climate change in a way that reduces the vulnerability of the citizens most at risk from climate shocks and stresses. These characteristics form the basis of a climate resilient urban governance assessment framework, and include (1) decentralisation and autonomy, (2) accountability and transparency, (3) responsiveness and flexibility, (4) participation and inclusion and (5) experience and support. This framework can help to assist in the planning, design and implementation of urban climate change resilience-building programmes in the future.

Portraits of resilience

www_iconAsian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN) The ACCCRN aims to catalyze attention, funding, and action on building climate change resilience for poor and vulnerable people by creating robust models and methodologies for assessing and addressing risk through active engagement and analysis of various cities. The project will build awareness on climate change resilience and evaluate demand, capacity and opportunity to carry out resilience-building work. This will be conducted through a series of shared learning dialogues (SLD) in different cities.

www_iconEast Asia and Pacific: Climate resilient cities Provides a primer to give local governments information to actively engage in training, capacity building, and capital investment programs that are identified as priorities for building sustainable, resilient communities. Provides city profiles of sound practice, and access to resilience publications.

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.