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What is equitable resilience?

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JournalWorld Development
DateAccepted/In press - 25 Apr 2018
DatePublished (current) - 5 May 2018
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)197-205
Original languageEnglish


Resilience has attracted criticism for its failure to address social vulnerability and to engage with issues of equity and power. Here, we ask: what is equitable resilience? Our focus is on what resilience does on the ground in relation to development, adaptation and disaster management, and on identifying critical issues for engaging with equity in resilience practice. Using techniques from systematic reviews, with variants of equitable resilience as our key search terms, we carried out an analytical literature review which reveals four interconnected themes: subjectivities, inclusion, cross-scale interactions, and transformation. Drawing on this analysis, we find that ‘equitable resilience’ is increasingly likely when resilience practice takes into account issues of social vulnerability and differential access to power, knowledge, and resources; it requires starting from people’s own perception of their position within their human-environmental system, and it accounts for their realities and for their need for a change of circumstance to avoid imbalances of power into the future. Our approach moves beyond debates that focus on the ontological disconnect between resilience and social theory, to provide a definition that can be used in practice alongside resilience indicators to drive ground level interventions towards equitable outcomes. Defined in this way, equitable resilience is able to support the development of social-ecological systems that are contextually rooted, responsive to change and socially just, and thus relevant to global sustainability challenges.

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© 2018 The Authors.

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