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Are we at risk of oversimplifying the concept of resilience?

Three Dryland Systems scientists - Davies, Robinson and Ericksen (2015) argue that resilience-building has become a mainstream development activity, and as such greater focus must be placed on exploring the meaning of ‘resilience’ in a development context, so that aid dollars are spent in ways that effectively address the needs and vulnerability of impoverished rural dryland communities. Enhancing resilience cannot be done without socio-economic development, and to achieve this we must seek to enable systemic change by addressing the drivers that will lift people out of poverty.

Mike Jones, who leads the Resilience Thematic Group at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) under the Commission on Ecosystem Management agrees on this point, but warns of the tautological trap of thinking of resilience as ‘resilience of the development process’.  Although it may first sound like an argument build on a play of words, what Jones really cares about is his concern that the concept of resilience may end up suffering the same fate as the oversimplified concept of ecosystem services, thus offering little value in helping us understand and manage change in complex dryland systems.  Read the full blog here.

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