Home > What do we mean when we use the term 'Resilience'?
What do we mean when we use the term 'Resilience'?
20 May 2019 - 13:00
While there have been shifts in the understanding of resilience over the past decade, there is still much debate, contestation and lack of clarity on what the term means, for whom, how can it be measured, how it relates to concepts such as vulnerability, wellbeing and transformation, and whether it is a useful framework and entry point for responding to the dynamics of global change.
To tackle this challenge the ACDI and the Centre for Complex Systems in Transition at Stellenbosch University co-hosted a Resilience Think Tank in March 2019. The event provided an opportunity to share and appreciate varying understandings (positive and negative) of resilience from theoretical/academic and practical perspectives.
Resilience is an outcome rather than an output, it is very difficult to measure, and it is especially difficult to measure uniformly.- Dewald van Niekerk, African Centre for Disaster Studies, North West University
Participants included academic from different disciplines and institutions, as well as those working in practice and governance. The day started with a discussion around resilience theory, during which speakers from different academic domains and perspectives laid out the evolution of resilience thinking, and unpacked the different meanings and understandings of the term 'resilience'. Next the group viewed resilience through a practical framing, with speakers sharing their stories of applying resilience in their different work contexts.
We need to understand how people are using the term 'resilience', and what they mean by it, so that we don’t get confused and create more tension.- Gina Ziervogel, University of Cape Town
The group ended the day by discussing and debating the importance of developing a common understanding and terminology across disciplines and sectors, the challenges of measuring resilience, the trade-offs that occur when trying to enhance resilience across scales, and the need to engage in difficult conversations around resilience.
Read the full report here and watch the video below.