Resilience assessment as capacity building

resilience principlesThe practice of resilience assessment requires some key conceptual framings.

One, as in the Nature of Cities roundtable that I discussed last time, is around the questions of whether and how to measure the resilience of people-in-place.

Another is around the standpoint of the assessor to the assessment.

In other words, should the assessor’s emphasis be on evaluating efforts, independently and objectively? Or should it rather be on supporting such efforts, collaboratively, based on a transdisciplinary approach?

Basically, is the goal of resilience assessment to evaluate resilience or to build resilience? And, if both, are there trade-offs in attempting to adopt the two standpoints?

In a recent Ecology & Society paper, (“Resilience assessment: a useful approach to navigate urban sustainability challenges”), My Sellberg and coauthors took a collaborative approach:

We evaluated the ability of the Resilience Assessment Workbook to help urban areas incorporate resilience thinking into their planning practice by exploring how a resilience assessment process complemented existing planning in the local government of Eskilstuna, Sweden. …

The participants of Eskilstuna’s resilience assessment identified three main ways that the assessment contributed to existing municipal planning and management:

  1. It provided a dynamic systems perspective;
  2. It enabled a discussion about global and uncertain threats;
  3. It helped implement and advance their sustainable development work.

All the identified themes of contributions of the resilience assessment, which these three categories build upon, are presented with examples in Appendix 5 (pdf).

Essentially, the focus of resilience assessment in this paper is on capacity building among assessment participants or stakeholders.

Resilience as capacity building was also the framing that my Ecotrust colleagues and I used in the 2012 publication, Resilience & Transformation: A Regional Approach. At top is the framework we developed (larger image).

See also: Michael Quinn Patton on comparing logic model and developmental evaluation.

  • My Sellberg 25 Jun 2015, 5:43 am

    Interesting distinction between evaluating and building resilience! I think building resilience is an exciting potential with the resilience assessment process that could be utilized further with a careful process design. A continued exploration!

    • Howard Silverman 25 Jun 2015, 7:07 am

      Thanks, My!

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