Societal Resilience

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Note: There is a lot of overlapping between the concepts of Societal Resilience, Social Resilience and Community Resilience.

European Definitions

IMPROVER project

The IMPROVER project [1] gives the following definition:

The ability of a community or society exposed to hazards to resist, absorb, accommodate to and recover from the effects of a hazard in a timely and efficient manner, including through the preservation and restoration of essential basic structures and functions. (Adapted by UNISDR[2])

Note: This definition refers to CI-related organisations. The IMPROVER recognises also two other dimensions which are relevant for CI, namely Technological Resilience and Organisational Resilience.

Other definitions


Ability of human groups or communities to cope with external stresses and disturbances as a result of social, political and environmental change. [3]

The way in which individuals, communities and societies adapt, transform, and potentially become stronger when faced with environmental, social, economic or political changes. [4]

[Resilience refers to] the adaptive and learning capacity of individuals, groups and institutions to self-organise in a way that maintains system function in the face of some change or in response to any disturbance. [5]

Social resilience is comprised of three dimensions [6]: (i) coping capacities - the ability of social actors to cope with and overcome all kinds of adversities; (ii) adaptive capacities - their ability to learn from past experiences and adjust themselves to future challenges in their everyday lives; (iii) transformative capacities - their ability to craft sets of institutions that foster individual welfare and sustainable societal robustness towards future crises.

See also


  2. 2009 UNISDR Terminology on Disaster Risk Reduction, United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), Geneva, Switzerland, May 2009.
  3. Adger, W. N. (2000b). Social and ecological resilience: are they related? Progress in Human Geography, 24(3), 347–364.
  4. Cutthill, M., Ross, H., Maclean, K., Owens, K., & Witt, B. (2008). Reporting Social Outcomes of Development: An Analysis of Diverse Approaches. The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Science, 3, 145-158., p. 146
  5. Maclean, K., Cuthill, M., & Ross, H. (2014). Six attributes of social resilience. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 57(1), 144–156.
  6. Keck, M., & Sakdapolrak, P. (2013). What is social resilience? lessons learned and ways forward. Erdkunde, 67(1), 5–19.