Resilience is a measure of a community's or a society's ability to adapt to sudden changes in ecological or social circumstances, while still retaining its social and material functions. A society that relies only on one supply of food or energy has little resilience since they would be in trouble if that one resource became inaccessible. On the other hand, a society that relies on multiple, locally produced food sources and gets its energy for several sources is less vulnerable to changes. Diversity, the ability to transform relations and habits and how well connected a community is are key factors to increased resilience.
There is a growing awareness of the lack of resilience in our societies and growing efforts to increase resilience on the local and global level. Especially our dependence on oil has been highlighted as a growing concern. We have gone from a time where access to fossil fuels in the form of oil and gas were the key factor for success and well being, to a time where our dependency on the same are a measure of our vulnerability. Oil is a finite resource and research indicate that we have reached maximum possible world production of oil at the same time as the demand for more oil is increasing with growing economies. Increases in the price of oil and conflicts around oil resources are likely to increase as the demand rises.
Societies and individuals can come under strain in ways other than an absolute scarcity of resources. One area that we see problems is financial resilience, as the banks and insurance companies which help to run our economies come into danger as the bets they made about the
future fail to work. The knock-on effects of the financial crisis are making entire generations question their values, and this is a different problem from the resource constraints around natural resources and environmental sustainability. What does it mean to be resilient to shocks which shake your entire society?
Initiatives for community resilience such as Transition Towns tries to show how ecological and energy systems are connected with social and economical systems. In order to increase our resilience in the former, we have to also change social relations and economic systems.
Information and knowledge. The new cultural models of production as an alternative to traditional markets, increase resilience: production is low-cost and decentralized, with individuals having major and critical input in the process, as opposed to being passive consumers (among the theorists see Yochai Benkler or Michel Bauwens).
Resilience need to happen on multiple levels but it is often the grassroots initiatives that are driving the change. We want to find out what initiatives you Edgeryders are involved in and how you feel about these issues and our societies’ ability to respond to the challenges.
Help the Council of Europe and the European Commission think about what works best for future resilience, in new ways, and come up with innovative policies. Choose a mission:
- So how else could your community get its food? See what this mission is about!
- Help build Edgeryders P2P school of resilience! See what this mission is about!
- Practical resilience. See what this mission is about!