Our world is changing at a rapid pace, presenting us with a range of increasingly complex challenges. Urbanization, population growth, socio-economic inequalities and climate change are placing greater and greater demands on politicians, city planners, civil society, and businesses alike to keep our planet livable into the future. “Our brains are not hardwired for this kind of complexity”, says Tina Comes, associate professor of Decision-Making & Information Technology for Resilience at the TU Delft. “Plus, there’s always the factor of uncertainty. We simply don’t know what’s going to happen.”
“That’s why resilience is so important”, adds Anne-Marie Hitipeuw, Chief Resilience Officer at the City of The Hague. “Are you prepared for shocks and stresses, can you overcome them, and learn from them?”
What exactly is resilience?
Tina: “In a nutshell, it is the ability to thrive under adversity. The ability to rapidly recover from a shock, combined with the ability to adapt to a changing world. A shock is a sudden-onset disruption, such as a flood or an earthquake, but there are also longer-term stresses, such as growing inequalities or climate change. That’s why you need the ability to learn, adapt and change. There is an engineering side to resilience, for instance through designing embankments and dikes, but also a socio-ecological side, which is about fostering adaptation and avoiding tipping points.”
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