The NADO Research Foundation has released Planning for a More Resilient Future: A Guide to Regional Approaches, a report that summarizes the rapidly-growing body of research on resilience, describing the main ideas that are driving policy and practice across the country and examining current thinking on regional and economic resilience. It is intended for regional development organizations (RDOs) as well as local governments, community foundations, voluntary organizations, and others who step forward as planners, conveners, organizers, fundraisers, mediators, coordinators, and advocates on behalf of communities impacted by, or at risk of being impacted by, disasters, natural and human-induced.
The report summarizes the rapidly-growing body of research on resilience, describing the main ideas that are driving policy and practice across the country, and examining in particular current thinking on regional and economic resilience. Click to download the full report (PDF) or the executive summary (PDF).
On resilience and regional development organizations The financial, social, and environmental costs of disasters continue to rise. Regional development organizations are in a unique position to guide and support communities and regions towards greater resilience.
On understanding resilience It is vital that regional development organizations understand what resilience means for the communities they serve. Resilience (or lack thereof) is a complex and dynamic feature of communities and regions. It is both a process and an outcome. It requires communities to anticipate threats, reduce their vulnerabilities, mobilize their resources and assets, and plan for a better future.
On the regional dimensions of resilience Disasters do not respect jurisdictional boundaries. Resilience at the community level has to be matched by resilience at the regional level. Regional development organizations are well-positioned as bridges between local needs and regional and national resources. For rural communities they have a pivotal role as conveners, planners, coordinators, and connectors, especially where formal government capacity is weak.
On economic resilience Regional development organizations can play a key role in enhancing economic resilience at two levels. First, they can work with businesses to help increase their ability to rapidly return to normal functioning after a disaster, and second, they can pursue a broad range of economic development strategies and initiatives to improve long-term regional competitiveness.
On measuring resilience Measuring resilience presents communities and regions with the opportunity to think about their future options and create meaningful, actionable resilience plans. Community support for resilience-building initiatives will almost certainly result if residents, businesses, and communities have the data to correctly prioritize how they improve the quality of their preparedness; if they can demonstrate their successes; and if they can measure the benefits of increasing resilience.
On planning for improved resilience Most regional development organizations are already engaged in a number of planning processes for their communities. Incorporating resilience into these efforts should be the goal. New practices are becoming available and merit consideration.
On the national policy framework An extensive Federal policy framework has been created to substantially improve preparedness and resilience at all levels in the face of hazards and disasters of all types. Regional development organizations should be familiar with this framework as it determines the priorities, funding, and activities of the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA as well as other Federal departments and agencies such as HUD, EPA, and EDA.
On philanthropic engagement There is increasing interest by philanthropic foundations to provide resources to communities and individuals impacted by disasters and to help them build resilience to future disruptions. These foundations are increasingly becoming important partners for regional development organizations.
Banner Photo Credit: Region Nine Development Commission (MN)