Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

October 11, 2012

Resilience v. Adaptability v. Transformability

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on October 11, 2012

Over the last few months some of us have considered the connection or not between a system’s resilience — ability to “bounce back” to something close to its original condition — and a system’s ability to effectively bounce-forward into something very different.  From time to time we have politely disagreed, but I’m not sure much authentically new understanding has emerged.

A piece that has generated some new understanding by yours-truly is  Resilience, Adaptability, and Transformability in the Goulburn-Broken Catchment, Australia by Brian H Walker,  Nick Abel, John M Anderies, and Paul Ryan (no, not that Paul Ryan).  This was published waaay back in 2009, but I just read it.

Here’s a brief excerpt that may entice or the opposite.

Resilience, therefore, emphasizes the possibility of alternate system regimes and the thresholds between them.The ability to manage resilience—to avoid regime shifts and to become more (or less) resilient—is referred to as adaptability, or adaptive capacity (Walker et al. 2004). A related concept is transformability—what to do when it appears that a shift into an undesired regime is either inevitable,or has already occurred and is irreversible (Walker et al. 2004). We explore these concepts in the context of the Goulburn-Broken Social Ecological System, drawing on information from farmers, citizens, researchers, public servants,and publications from both within and outside the region.

In any case, the distinction between adaptability and tranformability is, I suggest, important and helpful to our future consideration.

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1 Comment »

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 11, 2012 @ 8:04 am

Okay accepting transformability and adaptability does this imply that those must be factors studied to accomplish successful resilience?

If so how is that being done in the USA now? Those in DHS with the words “policy analyst” in their position descriptions now number almost 1000. What have they done to promote the resiliency paradigm established by NSC in 2009?

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