From Risk Management to Quantitative Disaster Resilience – A Paradigm Shift

From Risk Management to Quantitative Disaster Resilience – A Paradigm Shift

S. P. Simonovic 

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

30 June 2016
| Citation



There are practical links between disaster risk management and sustainable development leading to the reduction of disaster risk and re-enforcing resilience as a new development paradigm. There has been a noticeable change in disaster management approaches, moving from disaster vulnerability to disaster resilience; the latter viewed as a more proactive and positive approach. As hazard is increasing, at the same time, it erodes resilience. In the past, standard disaster management considered arrangements for prevention, mitigation, preparedness and recovery, as well as response. However, over the last 10 years substantial progress has been made in establishing the role of resilience in sustainable development. Multiple case studies around the world reveal links between attributes of resilience and the capacity of complex systems to absorb disturbance while still being able to maintain a certain level of functioning. There is a need to focus more on action-based resilience planning. Disasters do not impact everyone in the same way. It is clear that the problems associated with sustainable human wellbeing call for a paradigm shift. Use of resilience as an appropriate matrix for investigation arises from the integral consideration of overlap between: (a) physical environment (built and natural); (b) social dynamics; (c) metabolic flows; and (d) governance networks. This paper provides an original systems framework for quantification of resilience. The framework is based on the definition of resilience as the ability of systems to absorb disturbance while still being able to continue functioning. The disturbance depends on spatial and temporal perspectives and direct interaction between impacts of disturbance and system adaptive capacity to absorb disturbance.


adaptive capacity, natural disasters, resilience, system performance


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