Resilience is now recognised as a core development concept and refers to an ability to recover from a shock and to adapt to a disturbance. It has proved a useful concept for promoting multi-disciplinary interventions across different sectors. Resilience thinking requires an understanding of the system (e.g. a community or country) and an acknowledgement that it is exposed to several types of simultaneous risks – disasters, climate change, conflict, economic crisis, political changes – and that many of them are interconnected across different scales.
What is resilience?
Absorption, adaptation and transformation
Adaptive Capacity is the ability of individuals or societies to adjust and adapt to shocks and stresses while still functioning in broadly the same way overall. Some examples of this are activities related to livelihoods diversification, climate-change adaptation, skills development, agroecology, etc.
Transformative Capacity is the ability to change the system fundamentally when its current modus operandi is no longer viable. It refers to systemic changes that overthrow the status quo and expand the boundaries of the system. A classic example is rural-urban migration, but other examples are mechanisation, the use of mobile phones for rural services and changes in the energy sector (from fossil energy to renewables).
Current Salience in Development Cooperation
Currently, the concept of resilience is being applied in disaster risk management, climate-change adaptation, conflict prevention and natural resource management. Its influence is also expanding to other thematic areas such as health, education, social protection, food security, conflict and fragility, gender and agriculture.
Entry points to resilience from different thematic areas
Resilience, sustainable development and the SDGs
Challenges in implementation
Learn more about our work related to projects for resilience and disaster risk management in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Haiti, Nepal and Pakistan and download the full publications: