Facing the challenges of climate risks and prospects for readiness that transform our future

The roadmap from risk to resilience

The roadmap from risk to resilience

What is climate resilience? A global definition that covers every possible situation is impossible. We do need a working language that recognizes that there is no single answer to all the challenges we face, now and in the future. 

I contributed to the Global Adaptation and Resilience Initiative's working group (GARI).  Where I asserted that forcing all investment through a disaster risk management filter is to do the wrong thing. Reducing complexity to a risk-insurance perspective will lead to mal-adaptation in some cases, misuse of public funds in many more, and ignore some of the most effective solutions.

Here is the ground work behind that assertion.

“To only protect current assets from weather-related events under a mandate for climate change resilience is to do the wrong thing”. …a purposeful provocation by Tom Downing in the July GARI working group session in London





First, RESILIENCE has a foundation in both RISK and READINESS.  The risk-vulnerability nexus from disaster risk management entails a baseline of current impacts and leads to protecting assets against changing extreme events.  While the DRM framework has evolved post-Hyogo to focus more on upstream causes of disasters, the Risk = Vulnerability * Exposure framework still circulates as an entry point for climate resilience.

Now, add READINESS. Draw upon notions of resilience in coupled socio-ecological systems, chaos and complexity in systems theory and organizational leadershiop to focus on the causes of disasters. Readiness shapes processes that lead to future exposure and vulnerability and how to bend the development pathway to desirable, sustainable and resilience outcomes.

This view of RESILIENCE as a socio-institutional process with varied outcomes is captured in a continuum of adaptation.  The headline graphic implies an increasing scale of ‘additional’ adaptation from bottom to top and a longer term perspective that changes socio-ecological structures from left to right.  An even simpler concept is captured as steps in a short video clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCaVVlgxWa4. Dancing around concepts is good mental exercise--Ideas do have Consequences.

The roadmap from risk to readiness in achieving resilience has distince wayfinding markers. Adaptation is a socio-institutional process of making decisions, so look at the decision space, actor-networks and innovation. Actors seek to reduce uncertainty in making decisions, be aware of different metrics of risk, uncertainty and evidence.

This roadmap is the focus of our Climate Resilience Markets project. We will identify opportunities for investment by the private sector in creating resilience, both as a public good and private benefits to individuals, SMEs and large companies.

For more information, contact Tom Downing (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) or Carmen Lacambra (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Follow updates in the LinkedIn group: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8505857

Oxford, after stops in Cartagena and London on my road to resilience

22 July 2016

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