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Nancy Kete

Nancy Kete

Nancy Kete is the Resilience Shift’s Programme Director. Prior to this, Nancy was Managing Director of The Rockefeller Foundation, where she led their global resilience work.

She has over 30 years’ experience working for governments, not-for-profit, philanthropic and private sector organisations providing advice on infrastructure and urban resilience challenges.

You can find Nancy on LinkedIn.

Posts by Nancy Kete

“Resilience is the property of communities, not structures”

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That’s a quote from one of the papers in the latest issue of Environment Systems and Decisions, which just published updated versions of a set of research papers the Resilience Shift commissioned in 2017 as part of an initial agenda setting exercise, to get ideas for how to design, deliver and operate for resilience.

What I love about the quote is that it’s from a 1981 monograph by Peter Timmerman commissioned by the Canadian government to help understand how to think about vulnerability, adaptation and resilience to the impacts of climate change. Thirty-seven years later and most societies are still struggling to understand this idea and to operationalize it.

It is also a nice succinct way of describing the remit of the Resilience Shift, with its focus on resilience engineering – i.e. on the professional practices that can ensure engineered structures and infrastructure will be planned, designed, delivered, regulated and operated to serve the communities (provide, protect, and/or connect) under ordinary and extraordinary circumstances.

Here’s the heart of the conundrum: although engineering isn’t the only domain that contributes to the resilience or lack thereof of critical infrastructure, society does call on and rely on engineering for creating and managing resilience, as the paper in this issue by Pearson et al. reminds us. But traditionally, engineers aren’t trained for, expected to, or paid to deliver community – from where resilience emerges and where lack of resilience is felt.

In “Engineering Meets Institutions”, Naderpajoul et al. who found that wonderful quote from Timmerman, look at the challenge and the complexity of managing for resilience. Recognizing that although engineering is a principal domain associated with critical infrastructure, managing critical infrastructure successfully for resilience requires an interdisciplinary approach.

The articles in this issue collectively help make resilience more practical, tangible, and relevant to researchers and practitioners alike. They gamely contribute to a nascent understanding of what “resilience engineering” is, even though much controversy remains over definitions of resilience, more generally.

Please see here for the open access introduction to the special issue –

The whole issue is here – https://link.springer.com/journal/10669/38/3/page/1 – but, unfortunately, most of the papers are behind a paywall.

And the complete set of original white papers are available on the Resilience Shift website – http://resilienceshift.org/publications/.

Categories: Knowledge News

Welcome to the Resilience Shift

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Hello and thank you for visiting us at the Resilience Shift. This is our first blog post.

We are a small team of resilience “veterans” – if you can call those with experience in a field that is only a decade or so old “veteran”. We are dedicated to catalyzing a shift in how designers and engineers, asset owners and operators, insurers, investors and regulators play their role in creating a more resilient future.

Our focus is on implementation and delivery: on amplifying the availability of design and engineering talent who have the right skills to meet the rapidly increasing demand for resilience services in practice; on providing approaches, tools, and evaluations of first mover practices to help professionals build a theoretically sound resilience practice.

Recognizing there is a lot of good work underway to, for example, increase the demand for resilience solutions in cities, our added value, we think, is in getting involved and easing barriers to implementation – where the challenges are both practical and technical.

And where there is a need to move faster from theory into practice. Collectively, we would seek to answer the questions from across the infrastructure value chain, including cities, insurers, infrastructure asset owners to name a few.

I hope you will visit this site and blog with us – and most importantly – work with us to surmount barriers to new, 21st century professional practices in resilience.

A critical test of our (collective) success would be that you, dear design and engineering professional, wake up some Monday morning soon knowing what to do to deliver resilience value for your clients and theirs, and find your customers willing to pay for your resilience expertise.

The shift from engineering practices today, which are for the most part rooted in 19th century paradigms, to a resilience engineering practice rooted in emerging paradigm for 21st century means changes like the following:

  • Designers and engineers will no longer describe critical infrastructure projects in terms of their physical parameters. Under a resilience paradigm the focus shifts to design for provision of infrastructure functions under both ordinary and extraordinary circumstances. Infrastructure functions to provide, protect, and/or connect – not to be a dam, or a sea wall, or a road.
  • Instead of defining the job only in terms of preventing failure at pre-defined threshold levels, engineers will see their role as ensuring the functionality of critical infrastructure under a wide range of conditions.
  • Widespread understanding that assessing risks to individual assets from defined hazards is not resilience: resilience engineering of critical infrastructure serves to ensure the safety and well-being of society.

I will be providing more information in separate blogs about the how and the what’ to show what’s coming.

This is only the beginning of our journey to catalyse resilience within and across critical infrastructure sectors. We hope you will work with us and allow us to work with you to put resilience engineering into practice.


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