A reflection on the value of the tools and approaches work

In this blog, guest blogger and friend of the Resilience Shift, Igor Linkov, shares his thoughts following his attendance at our tools and approaches workshops in Washington DC and New Orleans.

Tools and approaches reviewed during this work have been added to an interim Resilience Toolbox.


The two Resilience Shift workshops I attended brought together a varied range of resilience practitioners and developers of tools and approaches. The results and discussions clearly show that the Resilience Shift is unique in integrating the concepts of the value chain and resilience practice to enhance resilience thinking in critical infrastructure. Discussions that I was involved in clearly support the idea of a tool platform and supporting community of practice that was presented and discussed at these meetings.

Framing workshop for tools and approaches project

Below are some of my key thoughts and recommendations for the remainder of the programme.

Encouraging uptake of resilience through Government

Governments are important players in promoting resilience, especially as they represent the interests of the ultimate end-users of critical infrastructure. The two workshops had many participants from federal, state and local governments, who told us that in general governments use of resilience tools is limited; but that there is an immediate need for resilience-based solutions.

Despite an understanding that governments may not be the prime users of resilience tools and approaches, they have a major role to play in terms of encouraging their widespread adoption. If governments mandate the use of a specific approach, then associated tools will typically propagate through all user communities, becoming business-as-usual activities. The Resilience Shift is currently focused on business, but targeting or engaging with government will be important for promoting the use and adoption of resilience-based approaches.

Bordering science and practice

Resilience is an emerging science, and although a common understanding is beginning to emerge, there is still very little consensus on what is the right and wrong way ‘to do’ resilience. This creates both challenges and opportunities for the Resilience Shift. A challenge is that multiple communities, at a global scale, are practicing resilience, while using different language and approaches. The opportunity is to help bring these communities together and equip them with a common framework for addressing resilience.

The most active and historically developed sub-fields of resilience include engineering, ecological and psychological resilience. These are applied over a wide range of domains including infrastructure, business, health, development, economics, among others. Navigating across these disciplines is challenging, and formed a particular focus of the workshops.

There is an opportunity for the Resilience Shift to develop a taxonomy of tools and approaches that can link people together from multiple disciplines through the complete value chain associated with projects or products. Such a taxonomy can be used as the basis of a platform from which to allow a heterogenous array of users to see the wider resilience picture. Even though the role of the Resilience Shift is not to do science, taxonomy represents the crossover between science and practice, and should therefore be done correctly.

A role for the Resilience Shift could be in the context of linking networks of scientists with practitioners and business. There are numerous networks focused on infrastructure and wider resilience, some research focused including scientists promoting new ideas, while others are result-oriented. Despite these networks and initiatives, who are producing methods and tools with the ultimate objective of adding value to society, the success of these networks at getting things into practice has been limited at best. The Resilience Shift is therefore in a good position to coordinate or co-coordinate a network of networks, across multiple disciplines, to achieve and accelerate innovative problem solving from theory to practice. The emerging tools platform may be a mechanism for doing that.

Value of the proposed platform, community and tools

The platform proposed by the Resilience Shift represents a unique effort, with the workshops I attended concluding that nothing similar currently exists.

Focusing on compiling tools for resilience assessment and management across the full value chain together with creating a community of practice that contributes to and uses these tools across different disciplines may be the niche that the Resilience Shift can fill.

The success of the platform will be dependent on inclusion of a broad range of tool users so that multiple communities can benefit from broad dissemination alongside peer support in their activities. This will also help to foster more cross-sector interaction and uptake of resilience tools.

Thanks to Igor for his comments and recommendations.

Read more about the Resilience Shift’s work on tools and approaches or listen to this video interview with Áine Ní Bhreasail from the project team. Tools and approaches reviewed during this work have been added to an interim Resilience Toolbox.

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