Judith Curry: resilience orthogonal to sustainability

In yesterday’s post, “Forget sustainability – it’s about resilience,” Judith Curry links to the 2008 version of Brian Walker’s “Resilience Thinking” that I edited and published, and she writes:

Over the last 5 years or so, I have been framing my research and applications related to extreme weather events around the concept of resilience. I viewed resilience as a concept that was orthogonal to sustainability, and realized that infrastructure designed for sustainability may make it more vulnerable to natural hazards. Zolli’s essay makes the argument that sustainability and resilience are tied to two different world views, and I find his argument convincing.

Resilience thinking is associated with systems thinking, uncertainty, and wicked problems. Resilience is arguably a concept that has broader political palatability than does sustainability. Resilience thinking seems to be a particularly good match for dealing with extreme weather events, which is arguably associated with the greatest impacts from climate variability and change.

  • Jay 8 Jun 2013, 7:31 am

    The most pressing contradiction is that sustainability and resilience compete for the same rhetorical position and limited pool of funds in any given institution.

    • Howard Silverman 8 Jun 2013, 11:35 am

      Hi Jay, interesting approach. Certainly, in common parlance, the words are used similarly. But i think engagement with the metaphors can lead to very different types of practices. Resilience is generally understood as a capacity, sustainability less generally so (one exception being the paper by Wiek et al.). Have you seen this post?

      On the funding question, welcome to elaborate. Do you have personal experience in this area, as funder or prospective grantee?

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