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Simin Davoudi - Unpacking Resilience


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Panel III: "Appropriateness of Resiliency as a National Strategy"
Simin Davoudi, Professor, Environmental Policy and Planning, Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK

Published in: Technology, Real Estate

Simin Davoudi - Unpacking Resilience

  1. 1. Simin Davoudi Professor of Environmental Policy and Planning Global Urban Research Unit (GURU) Newcastle University, UK Unpacking Resilience
  2. 2. ‘Resilience’: a coping strategy ? 2
  3. 3. 3
  4. 4. • Is „resilience‟ a buzzword or a useful concept? • Is it replacing „sustainability‟ in policy discourses? • Three meanings of resilience: • Engineering • Ecological • Evolutionary • Pitfalls of translating resilience from the natural to the social world 4
  5. 5. Resilience: etymology & origin • From Latin root Resilire: to spring back • Used by physical scientists to denote resistance to external shocks 5
  6. 6. The ‘founding father’ of resilience thinking • Holling, C. S. (1973) Resilience and Stability of Ecological Systems, Annual review of Ecology and Systematics, 4:1-23 6 Crawford Stanley (Buzz) Holling Emeritus Professor of Ecological Sciences University of Florida
  7. 7. 1. Engineering Resilience Persistence • “…The ability of a system to return to equilibrium state after a temporary disturbance” (Holling, 1973:17) • Fail-proof design: – Robustness – Resourcefulness – Rapidity – Redundancy (Bruneau, et al, 2003) 7 Millennium Bridge Arup, Foster and Caro, 2000/2
  8. 8. 2. Ecological Resilience Adaptability “… the magnitude of the disturbance that can be absorbed before the system changes its structure and functions...”. (Holling, 2001:33) • Not just how long, but also how much 8 Liberty Lake, WA, with summer algae blooms
  9. 9. Bouncing back and bouncing forth • Engineering resilience: – Single equilibrium to which a resilient system bounces back • Ecological resilience: – Multiple equilibria to which a resilient system bounces forth • Systems flipping between one stable state and the next. (Gunderson, 2000) 9 (Scheffer et al, 2001)
  10. 10. Equilibrium-based resilience and the clockwork Universe • World as a predictable mechanical device • To be kept in order by command and control 10 Wetherell's Clockwork Universe sculpture at Canberra, Australia (2009)
  11. 11. ‘Bounce-back-ability’ is everywhere! • Resilience as the “capacity to absorb shocks and to bounce back into functioning shape ....” (D. Omand, quoted in Demos, 2009:18 emphasis added) • The reorganisation was to „take all practicable steps to… respond and cope with major shocks [so] we can bounce back quickly‟. (J. K. MacAskill, quoted in Demos, 2009:18 emphasis added) 11
  12. 12. Returning to ‘normal’? • The aftermath of 2005 Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans 12
  13. 13. Favouring post-disaster emergency planning • Focuses on sudden, large and turbulent events (disasters) • At the expense of gradual, small and cumulative changes. • Focuses on short term damage reduction • Rather than long term adaptive capacity building 13
  14. 14. 3. Evolutionary Resilience Transformability • Systems as complex, non-linear, and self-organising, “permeated by uncertainty and discontinuities” (Berkes and Folke, 1998:12) • The ability of complex socio- ecological systems to change, adapt, and transform in response to stress. (Carpenter et al, 2005) • Create untried beginnings • Break away from undesirable „normal‟ 14 A watershed system, Durban, SA
  15. 15. Adaptive Cycle (Holling, 1986) 15 (Pendall, et al, 2010:76; adapted from Gunderson & Holling, 2002)
  16. 16. The ‘panarchy’ model of adaptive cycle 16(Gunderson, 2009:5 adapted from Gunderson & Holling, 2002)
  17. 17. Interaction at multiple scales, speeds and timeframes • Small changes can amplify into a „regime shift‟. • Large interventions may have little or no effects. 17 The butter fly effect (Edward Lorenz, dynamical systems, 1963)
  18. 18. Evolutionary Resilience • Is emergent: – not as a fixed asset, but as a continually changing process – not as a being, but as a becoming • Is performed when systems are confronted with disturbance and stress 18
  19. 19. The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. Ernest Hemingway, A farewell to Arms (1929) 19
  20. 20. Resilience Framework 20(Davoudi, et al, 2013, after Folke et al, 2010)
  21. 21. Human intentionality • Adaptive cycles seem overly deterministic • In the social context, adaptive cycles and their outcomes are „tendencies rather than inevitabilities‟. (Holling and Gunderson, 2002) • There is room for preparedness 21
  22. 22. The politics of resilience 1. Self-reliance 2. Outcome 3. Systems boundary 4. Power, politics and justice 22
  23. 23. 1. From self-organisation to self-reliance • Expecting people to, “pull themselves up by their bootstraps and reinvent themselves in the face of external challenges”. (Swanstrom, 2008:10) 23
  24. 24. A misguided translation from ecology to society • “If the Government takes greater responsibility for risks in the community, it may feel under pressure to take increasingly more responsibility, thereby eroding community resilience”. (RRAC, 2009:6) 24
  25. 25. 2. Outcome and purpose of resilience • Resilience towards what? • Defining what is desirable is a normative judgement. • Is social conformity a desirable / „natural‟ outcome of resilience? 25
  26. 26. 3. Systems boundary • “Resilience of what to what?” (Walker, 2002:187) • Where do we draw the boundary in the social systems? • Do resilient communities make up a resilient nation? • Does greater resilience of one nation / one city / one individual lead to lesser resilience for others? 26
  27. 27. 4. Power relations • “Resilience of what to what, and who gets to decide?” (Porter and Davoudi, 2012: 331) – Who defines resilience? – What is its desired outcome? Who decides? – Resilience for whom? under what conditions? etc • In ecological literature, resilience is power-blind and apolitical, partly because…. – “There are in nature no rewards or punishments, just consequences” (Westley et al, 2012:103) 27
  28. 28. Justice and fairness • In society some people gain, others lose in the process of resilience building. • Raising questions about distributive and procedural justice 28
  29. 29. Lost in translation? • “Applying the framework of ecological resilience to human institutions and governance processes generates paths to greater understanding, as well as dead ends”. (Swanstrom, 2008: 6). 29
  30. 30. Evolutionary resilience • A potential bridging concept between the natural and the social sciences. • Capable of stimulating interdisciplinary dialogues 30
  31. 31. Treading carefully! • In trying to understand societies through the lens of ecology, we should not lose the insights from critical social science. • In the social world, resilience has as much to do with shaping the challenges we face as with responding to them. 31
  32. 32. Further details and full references • Davoudi, S. (2012) Resilience: A bridging concept or a dead end? Planning Theory and Practice, 13 (2) 299-307 • Davoudi, S., Brooks, E. and Mehmood, A. (2013) Evolutionary resilience and strategies for climate adaptation, Planning Practice and Research, 28(3):307-322 • Porter, L. & Davoudi, S. (2012) The politics of resilience for planning: A cautionary note, Planning Theory and Practice, 13(2):329-333 • Davoudi, S. (2013) On resilience, DisP: the Planning Review, 192, 49.I:4-5 32