Helen Clark is a former three term Prime Minister of New Zealand and current Chair of the United Nations Development Group which has no less of a goal than the eradication of extreme poverty around the world. She knows a thing or two about resilience. She believes that resilience can answer some of the challenges facing the world as we deal with rapidly increasing populations, competition for resources and socio-economic inequalities. In a recent China Daily article Helen outlined why resilience needs to be at the heart of development.
Learning from past events
Building resilience allows communities to succeed in times of adversity because it draws on the strengths of individuals and institutions to lessen the impact of shock and to learn from the experience in order to avoid a similar situation in the future. An example of this is the Aceh earthquake in 2012 where there was a completely different response to the event compared to the disastrous 2004 earthquake in the same area, resulting in no casulaties.
Stronger, fairer societies function better
Resilient societies enable people to feel included and are encouraged to work together. This coupled with the framework of governance provided by institutions, helps to protect the most vulnerable in our societies. A sense of belonging and having ownership in something is key to creating resilience.
Driver of innovation and learning
To be resilient people, communities and nations need to look at things differently and this fosters innovation, learning and strategic thinking. Building resilience is a transformative process and in order to reduce some of the challenges we face there needs to be a commitment to protect the integrity of the world we live in – people, institutions, the environment.
Resilience is about giving people the tools to cope with change, to act when necessary, and to be able to confront the political, societal and environmental challenges we are facing.