Review of Resilience Report by the NAS

English: The Keck Center of the National Acade...

The Diva recently completed a review of the report “Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative,” issued by the National Academy of Sciences in late 2012. The review is included in the March/April issue of Environment Magazine.  Some excerpts:

From an intellectual standpoint, I believe the study findings and recommendations are commendable and credible. The report provides a substantial foundation for the formulation of mandates and funding streams to achieve resilience national. My concerns are practical ones, relating primarily to governance, as discussion in Chapter 7….

I see resilience as paramount going forward. Currently, there are no mandates ( legislative, regulatory, or directive) or funding streams for resilience activities in the main federal agencies responsible for emergency management. It remains to be seen who would be help accountable for efforts to accomplish, measure, document, and evaluate examples when they occur.

Here are the links to the full text versions of reports mentioned above:

5 thoughts on “Review of Resilience Report by the NAS

  1. Well said! One of my concern with the report was that it deals with resilience as yet another mitigation effort. That is resilience and mitigation are synonimous. What it doesn’t address is the process of adaptive resilience as survivors deal with secondary stressors, or for that matter how nimble is resilience when people are trying to re-establish their place. The issue of monitoring and evaluation is a significant one and must be answered sooner rather than later (from initial assessments, to programs and their impact, to the role of each Federal Agency, State and Community agency, finally how are the disaster affected people involved in their own recovery). Excellent Job, and thanks for sharing!!!

  2. Today must be National Talk About Resilience and the NAS Report Day, as I have both your article in Environment Magazine, Claire, and the Nat Hazards Observer article appearing in my inbox on the same day…lol. I would like to think this was a coordinated effort on the part of disaster researchers and professionals to call attention to resilience, vulnerability, and sustainability issues, though I know that no one would believe it even if it were true.

    On your point about Recommendation 3 John, I think you are right about the importance of both. My concern in looking at some of the Best Practice and success story materials that do exist (such as FEMA and EMAP), they often detail what was done rather than giving quantitative data about the efficacy and effectiveness over time of what was done. To answer questions about the suitability and adaptability of different ideas and methods to different locations and hazards, we need real data. And we need a lot of it. Not only do we need data but something even more important: decisions about what kinds of data we need to collect. A long time ago someone told me that you should always know before you start collecting your data how you plan to analyze it. What are the ways in which we will define the outcomes of a disaster that will allow meaningful comparisons?

    For the same reason I wholeheartedly agree with your points on Recommendation 3. Although some simplification of complex concepts is necessary so that they are understood by more people, reducing concepts like resilience, vulnerability, etc. to some form of numerical Index appears to me as a way to ultimately result in increased vulnerability and decreased resilience.

    • I had the same reaction – today is resilience day. I have not yet had a chance to read the Observer articles. I will be moderating a session on “Resilience Revisited” at the July NHRAIC conference, so I am collecting ideas and speaker suggestions.

  3. Claire:-

    I think you’ve pinpointed precisely the primary problem with the study: it suggests a vision without laying out a coherent path to reaching it.

    I also agree with your analysis of its strengths. I did (and do) have two other quibbles with a couple of the recommendations:

    Recommendation 3 calls for a national resource of disaster-related data. While this sort of database would certainly be useful to the research community, community leaders have repeatedly told us [the Community and Regional Resilience Initiative] that what they really want are success stories and tips and other materials that they can adapt and use in their own circumstances.

    Recommendation 4 calls for development of a national resilience scorecard. Almost all of the current efforts in this regard are based on a single value, an index. One can easily construct examples where one community has a strong economy but relatively low social capital (e.g., Anaheim, CA) and another has a weaker economy but excellent cohesion (e.g., St Louis) and both might have the same “resilience index.” A single number is rather uninformative in terms of a community’s need to take action. In my opinion, a more useful approach is to provide a snapshot that focuses on those aspects of a community that are important to resilience, and points to specific areas of strength and weakness. In the Gedanken experiment I just constructed, Anaheim would work on better incorporating its transient population into the fabric of the community while St Louis might work on strengthening its economy. This is the approach CARRI has taken with its “Community Snapshot.”

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