Resilience is the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure, identity, and feedbacks….. There are four crucial aspects of resilience. The first three can apply both to a whole system or the sub- systems that make it up.
- Latitude: the maximum amount a system can be changed before losing its ability to recover (before crossing a threshold which, if breached, makes recovery difficult or impossible).
- Resistance: the ease or difficulty of changing the system; how “resistant” it is to being changed.
- Precariousness: how close the current state of the system is to a limit or “threshold.”
- Panarchy: because of cross-scale interactions, the resilience of a system at a particular focal scale will depend on the influences from states and dynamics at scales above and below. For example, external oppressive politics, invasions, market shifts, or global climate change can trigger local surprises and regime shifts.
(Walker B., Holling C.S., Carpenter S.R. and Kinzing A., (2004) “Resilience, Adaptability and Transformability in Social-ecological Systems”, Ecology and Society 9(2): 5)
A distinction should be made between engineering and ecological concepts of resilience (Holling, C.S., “Engineering Resilience versus Ecological Resilience” in Engineering with Ecological Constraints, National Academy of Engineering (1996)). Engineering resilience is concerned with maintaining the efficiency, constancy and predictability of the system and focuses on stability near a single equilibrium steady state. Ecological resilience on the other hand, is concerned with the persistence, change and unpredictability of the system and assumes the existence of multiple possible steady states.