Photo by David Edkins on Unsplash

Spring progress in a time of pandemic

We are extremely fortunate that our small, distributed, Resilience Shift team is safe and well, and able to work effectively and collaboratively from our homes in different cities and continents.  In fact, the distances are now largely irrelevant, and friendships are strengthened by seeing people with their families and in their homes.

However, one of our core ways of working to date has been through convening discussions and dialogues, across sectors and disciplines, in order to build a common understanding of what matters for resilience. When diverse groups share their knowledge and experience, it’s a powerful way to gain consensus and build agreement on how better to work together across whole systems to create change.

After a busy eventful start to 2020, we are sorry not to be seeing you – our audiences, colleagues and friends – at Adaptation Futures, World Water Week, or COP26 or many of the other events and workshops planned for the year.

With most key event opportunities cancelled or postponed this year, we have been considering how best to maintain this dialogue with all of those who share our aims or are part of our target audiences for a shift in resilience theory and practice (whether or not they know it yet). This is more important than ever, but we don’t know yet when face to face meetings, particularly international gatherings, will be possible, or, perhaps more importantly, responsible.

This raises an important question as to what we, as an organisation, should do differently, and how we can use innovative and transformative convening methods to achieve the impact we want in the future.  With face to face meetings now using many different platforms and tools, we are all creatively finding ways to convene. We have seen a plethora of excellent webinars on wide-ranging topics relevant for infrastructure resilience, and all of this is proving to enhance not prevent dialogue.

We are also exploring new formats for our current areas of research. Building on a 2019 initiative to capture lessons from crisis, that focused on Cape Town’s ‘Day Zero’ drought response, the team has initiated a second Learning from Crisis study, seeking to capture and report insights around how senior leaders from both public and private sector organisations are addressing the Covid-19 challenges.  Importantly, this will track them on a weekly basis, to understand how their decision-making is evolving with the crisis, across different sectors and geographies, and will analyse and distill the lessons that can be learned for better future resilience. Led by Peter Willis, lead architect of its partner, the Cape Town Drought Response Learning Initiative, the key insights from these discussions will be captured in a series of Resilient Leadership podcasts.

For those who have already accessed our impactful learning materials based on the reflections of those involved in Cape Town’s Day Zero, you’ll be pleased to see that we have recently added extra modules, now in total there are 15 film modules and additional downloadable resources, in partnership with the Cape Town Drought Response Learning Initiative.

We are also talking to the energy industry to understand the global landscape for resilience and to frame our proposed work in this sector. We are particularly keen to understand how transferable learning from our previous work in the water sector might be applicable to energy. A report will be published later this spring.

So this is a call to action to all in our community of interest for more virtual dialogue. Please keep talking to us, contributing your ideas, engaging in sometimes challenging discussions about how we can shift the needle on better, smarter, resilience for all the critical infrastructure that supports our societies, and indeed our human existence.

We list below a few of the ‘things we like’ relevant for the current crisis:

  • Our own Covid-19 Resources page highlights three areas of learning from our work that are useful for those working across the infrastructure value chain.
  • This blog from the World Bank on sustainable recovery from COVID.
  • The World Economic Forum’s COVID-19 tracker, which provides links top associated publications, videos and data:
  • This Centre for Cities podcast about coronavirus and global city resilience.
  • This open letter to global leaders on the need for transformational change (with Seth Schultz as co-signatory on behalf of The Resilience Shift).
  • See more Covid-19 ‘things we like’ here.

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