IRGC Resource Guide on Resilience

Introduction

In the context of its work to improve the governance of systemic or emerging risks marked by uncertainty, IRGC has produced a web-based resource guide on resilience for researchers and practitioners. Volume 1 was published in 2016, volume 2 in 2018.

The occurrence of disasters and crises, following both extreme natural events and technology-related accidents, demonstrates the limitations of traditional risk assessment and management. In the context of risk, resilience has been discussed as both a supplement and an alternative to conventional risk management. On the side of governments and industry, many organisations explicitly call for resilience-based strategies to help cope with unexpected and sudden shocks.

IRGC describes resilience strategies as strategies that are needed when there is not only uncertainty about risk impacts, but also the potential for catastrophic consequences in the system.

Volume 1 (2016) of the resource guide is a collection of authored pieces that review existing concepts, approaches and illustrations or case-studies for comparing, contrasting and integrating risk and resilience, and for developing resilience. Most papers focus also on the idea of measuring resilience. Although this idea may not sound right to some, there are on-going efforts for evaluating resilience, developing resilience indicators, and measuring the effectiveness of actions taken to build resilience. These efforts are worth considering because indicators and metrics for resilience are needed to trigger interest and investment from decision-makers.

This guide is designed to help scientists and practitioners working on risk governance and resilience evaluation. It stresses the importance of including resilience building in the process of governing risk, including in research, policy, strategies, and practices. It emphasises the need to develop metrics and quantitative approaches for resilience assessment and instruments for resilience management.

Volume 2 (2018) of the resource guide provides in-depth and pragmatic evaluation of concepts and methods for resilience-based approaches (recovery from disruption) as opposed to risk-based approches, for ‘articulating’ better risk and resilience. It considers possible drawbacks of resilience, and the role that resilience can play in helping system adapt or transform when systems face transitions.

Questions that authors were invited to discuss are:

  • How do you define or characterize resilience in your domain? For what purpose or objective should an organization develop resilience strategies?
  • How do you articulate risk and resilience in your domain? What examples help illustrate the link between the two? When is a resilience-based approach preferred to a risk-based approach? Can you compare the respective cost of risk management strategies and resilience strategies?
  • Can there be drawback or moral hazard associated with resilience-building? How does it affect risk appetite? Can resilience increase risk vulnerability in your domain?
  • Can resilience be specifically designed to steer a complex system through transitions? Can it support the development of capabilities for adaptation and transformation?

Do you have any feedback or comments? Please send a message to irgc@epfl.ch.