Good Critical Thinking On The Concept Of Resilience In Relation To Climatic Change And Sustainability

Type of paper: Critical Thinking

Topic: Environment, Sustainability, Environmental Justice, System, Development, Ecology, World, Concept

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2021/02/13


The term "Sustainability" is very broad in its meaning, and this is one of the greatest needs of the environment today. Environmental shocks are growing by day owing to disruptions induced by mankind. Environmental challenges continue to reach their crescendo, and hence sustainability becomes more and more complex. In order to cater these shocks, sustainability in the environment is not only concerned with how to mitigate or avoid the environmental challenges. But it also concerned with ensuring resiliency in the environment. As a matter of fact, resilience and sustainability in our environment is greatly interwoven such that one cannot evaluate about one without referring to the other. Due to the intensity of the shock in the environment today, the need for resilience becomes well underscored (Xu, Marinova and Guo, 2014).
Davoudi et al. (2014) pointed out that the word “resilience” was coined from the Latin word “resi-lire” which means to “spring-back”. The resilience can be defined as the capacity of a system that could be a forest, an individual, an economy or a city to deal with change having parallel continuity of development. (Moberg and Simonsen, 2014). With resilience in place, shocks and disturbances act as catalysts for innovative thinking and renewal. This essay discusses and analyzes the concept of resilience as it applies to a system that could be ecological, environmental or political. It describes how resilience is such a vital force today with the increasing environmental and ecological shock in the ecosystem. (Derissen, Quaas and Baumgärtner, 2011; Moberg and Simonsen, 2014)

The Need for Resilience

Sustainability, a vital need of the society, portrays the need for future persistent and equitable well-being of the society. Resilience focuses on those features that are not captured by sustainability. Resilience in question implies adaptability and persistence. Resilience, much like sustainability, emphasizes in making necessary precautions with respect to resource usage as well as the risks that might emerge from such usage. Resilience also takes a look on how the vulnerability can be avoided in the system as well as how to ensure that future of ecological integrity in the society. According to Adger (2003), an effective merger of sustainability and resilience features is made obvious in the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
The vitality of resilience is underscored by the fact due to its relevancy in the context of an ecosystem as well as essential ecological and social interactions. Resilience stresses on the fact that humans are not to be separated from the natural environment. As the chasm between mankind and the natural environment, or nature, increases, sustainability is ravaged more and more. Resilience like sustainability stresses that humans cannot simply be separated from the natural environment and any attempt to cause such separation results to grave disruptions and interruptions. There tends to be a shift or impact in an ecosystem with respect to perturbation, and this is where resilience comes to play. Adger (2003) emphasized that the resilience of an ecosystem can be effectively measured by ascertaining the amount of shock or perturbation that it can absorb retaining its overall function.

Resilience and Sustainability in the Social Context

In many cases, the definition of resilience seems entirely positive but it is not usually the case. The resilience is not entirely positive especially when applied to the social system (Keesen et al., 2013). In the social system, resilience could be either positive or negative. This is because, resilience connotes the ability of a system to adapt to change and can also be defined as the ability of a system to persist irrespective of the applied change. Furthermore, resilience in the social context tries to address a number of teeming issues or questions in this field. This implies adaptability, and it is simply opposite to vulnerability. Social-ecological resilience cannot be achieved without unavailability of a number of elements. Such vital elements include the flexibility in social systems and institutions to deal with changes, the openness of institutions to broad participations and decision-making and so forth.
Resilience thinking is a vital need in the social-ecological system. The early focuses of sustainability concepts include effective management of resources, pursuance of economic growth, controlling change and increase in the wellbeing of human beings. However, the focus of sustainability today is very much focused on the concept of resilience. Hence, it deals with changes, uncertainties and disturbances (Xu et al., 2014). This shift in thinking and perspective is very vital in order to assess sustainability effectively in the complex systems. Resilience is very vital to sustainability and contributes greatly towards achieving sustainability in a society. In fact, a resilient system is simply sustainable and by maintaining resilience, it becomes very easy to improve on sustainability. According to Xu et al. (2014) resilience thinking is similar to the objective of sustainability because a resilient system can easily keep its current equilibrium and also endure external perturbations or shock. Resilience is, therefore, the first step in bridging the gap connecting sustainability and resilience.

Resilience and Climatic Change Issues in the Society

Resilience is an indispensable concept when it comes to climatic change adaptations. The need for climatic change adaptation became overly relevant since the publications of IPCC scientists in 2007 (Davoudi, et al. (2014). The publication stressed that the earth climate is changing, and it is impossible to avoid all the impacts of the environmental quagmire due to the inertia in the global climate system. One of the essential ways to mitigate these risks is the concept of sustainability and resilience of the system. This would essentially involve an overhaul of the policy and decision-making system. As a matter of fact, sustainability in this regard would require new sets of methods, policy, paradigms. It also would relate virtually all the scientific disciplines and involve a lot of governmental departments.
The policy is an integral factor in ensuring resilience and sustainability in climatic change. Resilience comes into play in order to ensure adaptation planning, policy development, as well as its implementation. Resilience is quite essential in developing policies and programs as well as in structuring urban planning. Its relevance is also quite underscored in policy making at the national level. It is important for practitioners to understand and also accept their limitations in understanding and forecasting a system's components and behavior. This is very vital for the effective utilization of the concept of resilience in climatic adaptations (Simonsen, 2014).
Climatic change could be a threat to virtually every system. In the aquatic environment, there could be a shift in the system due to climatic change. However, in a resilient aquatic environment, effective dampening feedback can occur and thereby mitigating the effects that could have been affected by such a shift. Moreover, further resilience approach could be in the form of policy making that relates to such a system. With governmental policies such as prevention of overfishing, the dampening effects of the feedback can be induced and hence making the system sustainable and adaptable.
The emission of greenhouse gasses by human activities has reached its crescendo in the 21st century. These emissions are seen in various forms such as the burning of fossil fuel (Moberg and Simonsen, 2014). Likely with the warming caused by the release of greenhouse gasses into the earth's atmosphere, the erosion of earth's goods and services are also well evident. Humans have made significant imprints on the earth, and these imprints are both positive and negative but the negative imprints are simply overbearing. For instance, the burning of fossil fuel has spurred great industrialization but such industrialization has not been friendly to the environment. These accelerations have driven a lot of changes in the earth’s system, and the earth's resilience is gradually being eroded by human activities. (Lizarralde et al., 2015; Moberg and Simonsen, 2014). Such activities include overfishing, extensive deforestation, increase in nitrogen fluxes, loss of biodiversity, an increase in domesticated land and so forth.
According to Mayunga (2007), a number of disasters that occurred in the world over the last ten years revealed that communities and people are increasingly becoming vulnerable to natural hazards. Among many others, examples of such disasters include the Indian Tsunami of 2004, Increasing global warming in the world, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and so forth. These disasters have affected an average of 3 million people and killed more than 750,000 of them and cost about at least $600 billion. This simply shows low resilience to natural disasters in the ecosystem. This explains why the relevance of resilience in different aspects of life and society such as in research, policy and disaster arena has become quite essential today. Resilience is widely used in the academic study and also in the society. The major blockade in its effective usage is the limited theoretical understanding of the concept. This essentially involves effective ways of defining and developing indicators that can measure, map and analyze the concept.
The problem is not in identifying that we are headed the wrong way but rather it bases on how to manage our relationships with nature. A profound attempt to address these concerns was made when a group of 28 internationally renowned scientists identified and quantified a comprehensive set of nine boundaries within which framework humanity can go on to develop and thrive. Abrupt and irreversible changes in the human society can be reduced drastically simply be respecting these boundaries. The boundaries touch aspects including climatic change, stratospheric ozone, ocean acidification, the nitrogen and phosphorus cycle, land use change, freshwater use, and biodiversity loss (Moberg and Simonsen, 2014).
Good examples of environmental concern caused by a climatic change that would require the concept of resilience to deal with include tropical monsoons in Indonesia and floods in the United States. Science Daily, (2015) pointed out that both phenomena are provoked by the Madden – Julian Oscillation (MJO). To deal with these climatic issues, it is important to have a good understanding of the heating distributions required to stimulate MJO in climatic models strongly.


The concept of resilience stresses that human beings and the environment are inseparable. In fact, in the attempt to alienate himself from the environment, man has got a lot of things in a mess, and these caused climatic problems with teeming environmental concerns. There is no doubt that sustainability powered by a resilient system is the key to achieving and solving the major environmental concerns in the society. Achieving resilience in the system is an all-encompassing concern that would cut across every discipline and aspects of life. The policy maker, manufacturers, scientists and even the educationists have vital roles to play in ensuring resilience in every system. This is perhaps the most imperative feature needed to ensure adaptability and maintain sustainability in the ecosystem whether we refer to the social context, ecological context or otherwise.


Adger, W. (2003). Building Resilience to Promote Sustainability. Bonn: International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Enviromental Change (IHDP), pp.1-20.
Davoudi, S., Shaw, K., Haider, L., Peterson, G., Wilkinson, C., McEvoy, D., Davoudi, S., Porter, L. and Quinlan, A., (2012). Resilience- A Bridging Concept or a Dead End? Reframing Resilience- Challenges for Planning Theory and Practice Interacting Traps: Resilience Assessment of a Pasture Management System in Northern Afghanistan Urban Resilience: What Does it Mean in Planning Practice?- Resilience as a Useful Concept for Climate Change Adaptation? The Politics of Resilience for Planning- A Cautionary Note. Planning Theory & Practice, 13(2), pp.299-333.
Derissen, S., Quaas, M. and Baumgärtner, S. (2011). The relationship between resilience and sustainability of ecological-economic systems. Ecological Economics, 70(6), pp.1121-1128.
Keessen, A., Hamer, J., Van Rijswick, H. and Wiering, M. (2013). The Concept of Resilience from a Normative Perspective: Examples from Dutch Adaptation Strategies. Ecology and Society, 18(2).
Lizarralde, G., Chmutina, K., Bosher, L. and Dainty, A. (2015). Sustainability and resilience in the built environment: The challenges of establishing a turquoise agenda in the UK. Sustainable Cities and Society, 15, pp.96-104.
Mayunga, J. (2007). Understanding and Applying the Concept of Community Disaster Resilience: A capital-based approach. In: e summer academy for social vulnerability and resilience building. [Online] Munich: Hazard Reduction & Recovery Center, Texas, pp.1-16. Available at: [Accessed 10 Apr. 2015].
Moberg, F. and Simonsen, S. (2014). What is resilience? An introduction to social-ecological research. Stockholm: Stockholm Environment Institute, pp.1-19.
Science Daily, (2015). Heat's role in the Madden-Julian Oscillation. [Online] ScienceDaily. Available at: [Accessed 10 Apr. 2015].
Simonsen S. H (2014). Applying resilience thinking: Seven principles for building resilience in social-ecological systems. [Online], Bonn: International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Enviromental Change (IHDP). Available at: [Accessed 10 Apr. 2015].
Xu, L., Marinova, D. and Guo, X. (2014). Resilience thinking: A renewed system approach for sustainability science. Sustainability Science, 10(1), pp.123-138.

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Good Critical Thinking On The Concept Of Resilience In Relation To Climatic Change And Sustainability. Free Essay Examples - Published Feb 13, 2021. Accessed July 01, 2022.

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