How can we use a Resilience Assessment?
If a government agency or a larger NGO is planning to implement a long-term, large-scale development project, they might be interested in developing in advance a resilience assessment to see possible futures and emergent challenges.
Once a researcher told me that environmental science should not only be interesting but also useful. She was right: it is tempting to create cool graphs, sophisticated models, and theoretical solutions to abstract problems, but the real challenge is to provide results that are useful in a specific context, which support the work of someone, which can change something on the ground.
And thus, why would you want to create a resilience assessment (RA)?
If a government agency or a larger NGO is planning to implement a long-term, large-scale development project, they might be interested in developing in advance a resilience assessment to see possible futures and emergent challenges. They might, moreover, do it in a participatory manner — since this is one of the best ways to ensure successful implementation.
Our resilience assessment methodology might be useful for their purposes but, most likely, it would be applied in contexts where funding and decision-making power is much less available. Then, why would a local association or a group of farmers do a resilience assessment? To answer this:
- It can channel results into an existing participatory or planning process. While grassroots organizations who do the RA usually cannot directly make decisions, results can be channelled into other existing or upcoming participatory processes.
- A resilience assessment is a great tool for long-term planning, generating ideas for project proposals and activities that, despite being parts of different and seemingly unrelated projects, follow a common logic and serve a few specific strategic goals.
- Resilience offers a great language to explain complex problems and strategies to a non-scientific audience. Adaptation, transformation, system-history: they are all intuitive concepts that make the work of an organization more relatable to outsiders.
- A resilience assessment also uncovers uncertainties and unknown parts of the system. It generates research ideas, questions, and hypotheses. Either collaborating with scientists or doing citizen-science, a well-asked research question or a great demonstration of a hypothesis can lead to a significant shift in public discussion or support for a strategic goal.
- Doing a resilience assessment is already the first step of the implementation: it is a great way to gather expertise, build a network, and connect people who share the social-ecological system as their home.
- We are living in the Anthropocene. Climate change is happening; many of our landscapes are fundamentally transformed. The future is more uncertain than ever. Resilience-thinking helps to build the capacity to cope, adapt or transform — whichever is necessary.