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ODI Resilience scan April-June 2016: A review of literature, debates and social media activity on resilience

Thisscan summarises writing and debates in the field of resilience during the second quarter of 2016, focusing primarily on the context of developing countries.


Thisscan summarises writing and debates in the field of resilience during the second quarter of 2016, focusing primarily on the context of developing countries. 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 improving the business case for investing in resilience; summaries of key blogs, grey literature and academic journal articles on resilience; and the insights from this literature for five characteristics of resilience.

The UN Conference on Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in October and the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP) climate conference in November in Marrakech, which follows up the Paris climate agreement are highly relevant global meetings of importance still to come in 2016.

This paper* gives 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 from the right-hand column. To view this content on ODI’s website and to access previous resilience scans, please visit:

Methods and Tools

Review of academic literature

In this quarter, we reviewed 25 academic papers, of which 24 peer-reviewed papers from agriculture, DRR, development, geography, ecology and anthropology journals were retained in the final analysis. The papers span four themes: multi-scalar and cross-sectoral adaptation; power, perceptions and subjective resilience; adaptive capacity in agro-ecological systems; and migration and displacement.

Measuring blog visibility

We identify 25 of the most influential blog posts on resilience published between January and June 2016 and analyse them within thematic clusters. This provides an alternative lens through which to understand the key debates and topics dominating the resilience discourse.

The purpose of this initial step is to offer a bird’s-eye view of the resilience blogosphere. Using blog search engines, Boolean search queries were performed to identify blogs that publish about resilience in different contexts. This initial exploratory search identified the top 50 resilience blogs, with the criterion being how visible the relevant blog content is on the web. This ranking was derived by a score based on Google PageRank, Page Authority, Domain Authority.

The next step involved narrowing down the list to the top 25 resilience blogs. With the initial list ranked by search engine visibility and content relevance, the 50-blog list was manually reviewed to exclude blogs that:

  • have low keyword/subject matter relevance.
  • are link farms and blog aggregators, which do not publish original content or syndicate posts from other blogs.
  • have no active comment sections or measurable social sharing features.
  • posted no relevant updates in 2016.

Measuring blog impact

A complete manual review and analysis of resilience-related blog posts published in the first half of 2016 was performed, and the top 25 blog posts were identified based on metrics of social shares and comments/reader engagement. A score was derived by aggregating the following metrics:

  • blog comments
  • Facebook shares
  • Facebook ‘likes’
  • Facebook comments
  • Twitter shares
  • LinkedIn shares

The list was then ranked by aggregate impact score to present the top 25 resilience blog posts of Q1-2 2016.

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:


  • There is a need to shift from static to dynamic risk assessments that reveal the drivers of risk.
  • Subjective and psychosocial measures and aspects of resilience can enhance our overall understanding of people’s resilience and the impact of shocks and stresses.
  • Despite recent efforts, there is still a long way to go in fully developing and establishing accurate and adequate M&E methods for assessing resilience.
  • Tracking perceptions of resilience can be used as a tool to foster accountability to NGOs and governments, plan resilience interventions and highlight discrepancies between scientific models and self-assessments.


  • Diverse skills, capacities and approaches are required to respond to diverse shocks and stresses within complex and varied contexts.
  • In order to accurately measure resilience, a diverse set of context-specific indicators is required.
  • The resilience of diverse components of social-ecological systems is interconnected, and there is scope to better understand the feedback loops between different scales and dimensions of these systems.


  • A resilient food supply chain relies on the self-regulating nature of its actors, support services and external infrastructure.
  • In order to avoid cascading disruptions, responses to multi-hazards require adequate disaster risk and crisis governance present at all levels and across all sectors.
  • The vulnerability of critical infrastructure can cause ‘cascading disasters’, which are a product of and feed into social and economic systems.


  • Resilience can be enhanced through the integration of social protection initiatives into DRM and climate resilience-building strategies.
  • There is the need for further integration of gender into CCD initiatives, particularly in urban areas.
  • Greater integration between international policy frameworks will help address underlying vulnerabilities and promote coordination between the CCA and the DRR sectors.
  • To integrate a wide variety of actors in climate adaptation and resilience, there need to be clearly delineated responsibilities between scales and sectors.
  • The process of working together is often as important as the policy outcomes, and co-production between multiple levels of governance helps ensure successful resilience outcomes.


  • Adaptive capacity is a fundamental aspect of resilience and is therefore commonly used as an indicator in methods for measuring resilience.
  • People’s adaptation-related decisions are just as frequently determined by subjective factors as they are by objective ones.
  • Perceiving changes in climate is important for facilitating adoption of adaptation actions, and extension services can play a role in facilitating an awareness of climate change.
  • Migration can be conceptualised as a form of adaptation, but understanding the connections and feedback dynamics between places of origin and places of destination should not be neglected.
From page 17 of the Resilience Scan for April-June 2016

Suggested Citation:

Tanner, T., Lovell, E., Pichon, F. and Batra, P. (2016) Resilience Scan: April-June 2016. ODI Annual Reports. Overseas Development Institute: London, UK

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