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ODI Resilience Scan July-September 2016: A review of literature, debates and social media activity on resilience

This scan summarises writing and debates in the field of resilience during the third quarter of 2016, focusing primarily on the context of developing countries.
ODI Resilience Scan Jul-Sep 2016 cover


This ‘resilience scan’* summarises writing and debates in the field of resilience during the third quarter of 2016, focussing primarily on the context of developing countries, gender equality and resilience. The scan will be of particular interest to those implementing resilience projects and policies, and those seeking summaries of current debates in resilience thinking. It comprises insights on the key international policy processes in 2016, analysis of Twitter activity on resilience, and summaries of high-impact grey literature and academic journal articles. The final chapter synthesises the insights from literature in terms of five characteristics of resilience-awareness, diversity, self-regulation, integration and adaptiveness.

*Download the full report from the right-hand column. Previous scans are available on the Resilience Scan page of the ODI website.

In this quarter’s scan

Gender equality and resilience

The expert review section in this scan covers gender equality and resilience – two topic areas many agencies consider cross-cutting and interlinked. The evidence on the linkages between promoting gender equality and enhancing resilience (including disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation) is growing (e.g. CARE, 2015; Fordham et al., 2011; Le Masson et al., 2016; Oxfam, 2010; Smyth and Sweetman, 2015; Tacoli et al., 2014) but organisations implementing development projects do not often have opportunities to discuss these intersections in practice and the extent to which they are mutually reinforcing.

Resilience on Twitter

This scan provides an analysis of resilience conversations in a range of different contexts, including climate change, agriculture, food security, conflict, urban development, water and economic resilience. For each of these contexts, table 1 (see the full text) summarises the most prominent discussion themes and key influencers in debates and interactions.

Resilience in grey literature

Our examination of papers on resilience published July– September 2016 includes 31 from research and private sector institutions, donors and multilateral agencies. These span six broad themes. Compared with last quarter’s scan there has been a decrease in the number of papers discussing social protection and inclusion issues as well as post-2015 international frameworks, and a marked increase in the focus on migration and conflict.

From page 31 of the report: Displacement in Zam Zam camp for Internally Displaced People (IDP), North Darfur. Photo: UN/Albert Gonzalez Farran, 2014.

Key messages

Multiple disciplines and domains of practice employ resilience thinking. We can interpret the literature discussed in the scans of blogs, academic and grey literature based on five broad characteristics of resilient systems identified by the Rockefeller Foundation. These are distilled through a consideration of a wide body of research on the topic:

1. Awareness

  • If people are aware of their rights, they are more likely to mobilise themselves and demand action from their governments.
  • There is a strong focus on different tools and methodologies for measuring climate-related impacts and resilience initiatives.
  • There needs to be a stronger focus on the use of disaggregated data and baselines in order to monitor progress against the post-2015 development frameworks.
  • Collaborative and iterative production of knowledge supports resilience planning and facilitates the uptake of information for policy-making.

2. Diversity

  • Diversity within planning and implementation is needed to help respond to climatic uncertainty and a range of different shocks and stresses.
  • Diversification of livelihoods, agricultural practices and supply chains will help farmers and industries build their resilience to shocks and stresses.
  • Multifaceted and diverse coping mechanisms instead of singular interventions are key for enhancing risk management.

3. Self-regulation

  • Conflict and disasters can exacerbate the vulnerability and risk of a population, and can contribute to negative trends in terms of exposure to disasters and the occurrence of conflict.
  • Business continuity plans can help promote selfregulation and build resilience within systems.
  • Collaboration and shared identity can support community resilience and self-regulation.

4. Integration

  • Partnerships and collaboration are key to building resilience and enhancing cross-sectoral work.
  • Effective integration between displaced populations and host communities can provide major opportunities in terms of knowledge and skills transfer.
  • Social disintegration compromises the stability and resilience of SES.
  • Connecting discourses, disciplines and methodologies can enhance the understanding of vulnerabilities and resilience and contributes to informed planning and policy-making.

5. Adaptiveness

  • Ecosystem-based adaptation, planned relocation and social protection are key adaptive approaches highlighted in the literature.
  • Adaptive capacity promotes longer-term change, for instance through livelihood diversification and resolving conflict over scarce resources such as land and water.
  • A rethinking of the positive notion of adaptation towards attention to complex systems is crucial to uncover trade-offs and power relations in adaptation management.
Figure 23 from page 25 of the report: What does Twitter discuss when discussing resilience?
From page 28 of the report: Residents survey the scene on Long Island, New York following Hurricane Sandy. Photo: The Legacy Center, 2012.

Suggested citation:

Tanner, T., Lovell, E., Weingärtner, L., Batra, P., Pichon, F., Morsi, H., Le Masson, V., Lim, S., Casey, J. and McQuistan, C. (2016) Resilience Scan July-September 2016: A review of literature, debates and social media activity on resilience. London: Overseas Development Institute

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