Experts call for 'resilience thinking'

Society needs to learn from resilient ecosystems if it is to better cope with unanticipated shocks in the future, say experts.

The call comes ahead of a conference on resilience begins today at the Australian National University in Canberra, hosted by Australia 21.

"Resilience is about how we [as individuals or as organisations or societies] bounce back from adversity, from shocks", says Dr Steven Cork, who leads Australia 21's Resilience Project.

He says thinking about resilience is important because humans are facing many challenges that are beyond our control to predict and control - from climate change to the global financial crisis.

"We keep being hit by more and more things that we weren't anticipating," says Cork.
Learning from ecology

Cork says resilience is a feature that has been recognised in the field of ecology for many years.

He says one feature of a resilient ecosystem is that it can more easily bounce back from a shock when it has the ability to keep functioning if one part collapses.

But, says Cork, the typical society relies on centralised networks that are vulnerable to threats.

"It's all dependent on one or a few people or agencies. If they collapse then the whole system collapses," says Cork.


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