Resilience has been an important concept in thinking about adaptation to climate change and is increasingly used in connection with adaptation to other sorts of risks as well. But defining resilience as a measurable goal is a complicated undertaking. This paper examines the academic literature on resilience, vulnerability, and transition in light of experience with the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN).
The authors probe the weaknesses in resilience thinking, including its tendency to be technocratic and functional and to undervalue individuals, their relationships, and social systems, as well as the simplistic way in which it connects environmental and human systems. They argue that these shortcomings can be overcome if the concept is combined with the social science conception of vulnerability, which focuses on social systems, and the concept of transition, which emphasizes structural change over incremental functional change. In combination, the three concepts offer a more complete approach to adaptation to varied risks and stresses.