Political flag or conceptual umbrella? Why progress on resilience must be freed from the constraints of technical arguments

Briefing papers
July 2014
Is resilience a political flag or conceptual umbrella?

This policy brief examines the two arguments for resilience - technical and political - and seeks to guide a clear way forward for practical action for development and humanitarian agencies.

Key messages:

  • Theoretical discussions about what resilience means and how to measure it are distracting attention from the vital task of gaining more understanding about people’s vulnerabilities and how to address them.
  • ‘Resilience’ should not be turned into a technical discipline or an aid category. The case for resilience is to change the political decisions about what development policy and aid in general is used for.
  • Empirical evidence, not definitions, must be the basis for understanding the limits of people’s coping and freedoms. Theoretical frameworks should facilitate the generation of evidence, not determine the conclusions of analysis.