Resilient decision making: what it is and what value it can provide for global communities

In an interview, Professor Quentin Grafton discussed the importance of resiliency and resilient decision making. This article explores the concepts of resilience and resilient decision making, looking more closely at what they mean and how they can be applied at a community level.

Resilient decision making addresses what can be done about problems, within stakeholders’ control, to deal with uncertainties. Many times, the uncertainties that communities face (such as natural disasters, the effects of climate change, or even conflict) can bring about negative or even catastrophic impacts if a community has no tools in place to deal with such scenarios. In the development world, resilience itself means finding and implementing solutions that allow systems to survive, adapt, and grow in the face of stress and shocks, and even transform when conditions require it.

In resilient decision making, stakeholders can rely on cross-shared learnings, strengthening systems so that instead of working in a reactionary way on relief and rebuilding, stakeholders can plan ahead to solve and address problems before they happen.

The Rockefeller Foundation’s role

The Rockefeller Foundation is focusing on the benefits of resilient decision making through its new resource, Zilient, which brings people and ideas together to build on the field of resilience, allowing for opportunities to participate in workshops and policy dialogues, share work, attend events, and more.

The Foundation, with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) has also created the Global Resilience Partnership (GRP), building resilience in the Sahel, Horn of Africa, and South and Southeast Asia. This project focuses on technology to promote evidence-based decision making and/or accelerate the implementation of innovative solutions, measurement approaches, and tools to explore the impact of resilience efforts and what future needs may be, financing to mobilize capital for initiatives, the creation of environments that prioritize resilience for humanitarian and development work, and learning and innovation to fill gaps in resilience knowledge.

Resilience case study: The Philippines

Resilience considers how various systems operate upon one another: climate change, disaster management, water management, and land management — for example.

A case study from 2013, by Josephine Castillo and Patricia Hererra, explores resilience work in Manila. There, grassroots organization DAMPA worked to bring the local people into government decision making to build resilience, promoting response teams that work quickly to deal with risk during times of crisis related to climate change. By helping to organise communities to work together, the collaborative approach supports different sectors to understand what is needed to improve food, water, and nutrition security in the face of climate change, in order to create resilient communities now and in the future.

Resilient decision making gives local people ownership over the sustainability of their practices, and their community, creating a more effective framework for reducing hunger, promoting better nutrition, and addressing climate change.

Resilient decision making and resilience itself has value for each and every person on the planet. By creating resilient people, communities, nations, and systems, more of our resources, energy, and efforts can be spent on growth and innovation instead of picking up the pieces after a disaster, crisis, or shock of some kind. Resilient decision making builds on what already exists and makes it both stronger and prepared.

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