The way forward!
CEEweb's resilience analysis framework
In the first iteration of our resilience assessment framework, we have directly built on the resilience assessment workbook for practitioners that was published by the Resilience Alliance. This workbook is a didactic approach to do the assessment process, starting by describing the system, collecting elements, and arranging them all in an abstract framework.
Our experience with this approach is mixed. In the first case where we tried it, it worked well; in the second one, it was almost meaningless for participants. We believe that a clear problem awareness and shared experience facilitate a systemic view and an analytic approach. Having a common goal and motivation also focuses participants’ attention on a narrow set of questions. Instead of abstract structures, stakeholders liked to talk about stories and examples. Even when very specific natural elements were discussed, their state was naturally approached in a historical context — thus, we decided to start the assessment process by building a historical timeline. Thinking about history is engaging — enjoyable even for those who do not know much about the region — and allows for partial contribution and completion by others. This is a very natural way of interpreting the state of the system.
The second notable change we introduced was to perform a scenario building exercise instead of the original action-item focused planning process. Possible scenarios can be identified by using slow variables identified with historical timelines. Having a vision, it is usually easier to backcast earlier steps. Here we make more room for the facilitator and give a less pre-defined framework for planning — only some questions are offered for consideration. We also re-frame this part to be more realistic in its assumptions regarding the existing cooperation. We will drive the conversation towards small scale demonstrations and alliance building first, starting resilience-focused projects (such as LIFE projects) and gradual transformation instead of large-scale changes. In the earlier version, we focused on theoretically efficient leverage points in the system, which are indeed efficient but extremely hard to access for an average local NGO — our main target audience.
Timelines and scenarios are also much better communication tools for the organisations implementing the resilience assessments: the entire process becomes a form of storytelling in a frame that is accessible to anyone.