England & Wales Climate action and sustainable development, Democracy, devolution and governance, Personal and organisational development

Resilience in Practice


Resilience has become a widely used concept in policy circles, particularly in terms of flood response, climate change adaptation and community cohesion. But there are many interpretations and the term is used in different ways, by different organisations, in different contexts.

Our new policy report, Resilience in practice, looks at some of the different interpretations and argues that resilience should be built on the partnership between local institutions, communities and citizens.

Strategies for resilience and adaptation are only as useful as the actual effect they have in places and communities over the long-term. By connecting diverse actors across the public realm, local government can hope to develop what we call “thick” resilience, taking full account of the wider socio-economic context, including challenges of inequality, deprivation, demographic change, ageing infrastructure and access to housing.

Our recent work on technological solutions to climate change adaptation through RainGain highlighted the need for new ideas and approaches that would enable organisations to do this effectively, moving beyond top-down reliance on technology towards a more democratic, networked, and community-based idea of resilience. There are huge opportunities for local government to pursue this, afforded by the current emphasis on devolution.

It is about more than just responding to and recovering from a crisis. It involves nurturing the power within communities to manage long-term change, supporting the capacity of individual citizens to adapt and participate, and the building the skills and assets within organisations that allow them to work in new ways.

Case studies in the report, from London Boroughs of Camden and Hounslow, North Yorkshire, Kent, Leicestershire, and Newcastle City Council, among others, demonstrate some of the approaches being taken across the country to do just this.

The report also offers guidance for local authorities to support the development of their ideas around this issue.

We will continue to work on this issue throughout 2016, so please get in touch with Andrew Walker if you’d like to be involved: [email protected]