From The Transition Companion, by Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition movement:
Charlie Edwards, in Resilient Nation, a report about resilience written for the think-tank Demos, came up with a description of resilience which is probably the most useful I have found:
“The capacity of an individual, community, or system, to adapt in order to sustain an acceptable level of structure, function, and identity.”
This stresses how adaptability is at the heart of resilience. What would this explanation of resilience look like if we saw the need to be more adaptable not as a challenge but as an opportunity?
In Transition we take Edwards’s definition of resilience further. We look at resilience as more than “sustaining” current models and practices. Rather, in the light of “energetic precariousness,” it becomes a rethink of assumptions about infrastructure and systems that should lead to a more sustainable, resilient, and enriching low-carbon economy.
Making a community more resilient, if viewed as the opportunity for an economic and social renaissance, for a new culture of enterprise and reskilling, should lead to a healthier and happier community, while reducing its vulnerability to risk and uncertainty. In practice, a more adaptable community trains its young people in a wide range of skills, more decisions are taken at the local level, the community owns and manages more of its own assets, and has access to some of the land adjoining it; …Becoming more resilient is a positive and enriching step forward. …
One of the key questions posed about resilience is: “Resilience for what?” Are we building resilience in the face of peak oil and climate change, or of terrorism and pandemics? To weather-related disruptions or interruptions to key supplies? What we see as the greatest potential disruptions will shape our actions. While it is clearly not an either-or situation, I would argue strongly that peak oil, climate change, and the precarious economy are so far reaching and destabilizing that we really must give them precedence, the solutions that arise being markedly different from the disruptions from terror or pandemics….