Why we Disagree about Resilience: epistemology, methodology and policy space for integrated disaster risk management

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Geography


Resilience programming often draws on technical science to highlight its benefits, yet little systematic work has studied the role of science in shaping resilience policy trajectories. Improved knowledge of how science is used by different actors and interests in resilience policy processes is important of resilience is to help build inclusive, transparent and just development. This calls for a better understanding of why specific actors prefer certain kinds of scientific knowledge when making the case for resilience, how languages of science alienate or support specific actor groups, and if the worldviews projected through individual science traditions preference particular kinds of policy response and outcomes from calls for resilience.

Thinking of science as integral to policy processes and arguments moves analysis past linear explanations of risk communication and places science within governance systems. This allows much more fine grained explanation of where and why science is used and by whom, and opens questions about the duties of scientists as actors in governance systems - not as neutral experts acting from the outside of governance processes. Opening up a systematic research agenda on the role of science in resilience can draw upon mature work of this kind on risk governance. Opening up to the justice implications of specific science-policy relationships is made timely by the heightened role given to science by the UN Sendai Framework for Action 2015-30. Here science is called upon to help innovate, monitor and evaluation but also to convene of risk management policy. The convening role of science is little explored within disaster risk management and work is needed that can help policy actors learn how to use science to provide shared spaces for common dialogue around contentious topics like resilience and to avoid resilience becoming a tool for policy domination and capture.

Opening a research agenda on the role of science in governance for risk and resilience requires a transdisciplinary approach - one that combines interdisciplinarty with stakeholder coproduction. The proposed project will combine political philosophy and critical social science to ask questions of duty and power to science production processes, review participatory methods used to describe resilience and bring together experience from hazards mapping and visualisation and arts and performance methods to provide multiple methods that can surface different interpretations of resilience. Performance based methods will allow for interpretive and emotional aspects of resilience to be presented and contrast with geographical information systems using spatially defined hazard and social attributes for specific places. The framing of questions, methods and analysis will also incorporate stakeholders from each of the three pilot study sites: Cape Town (Philippi), Manila (Tay Tay) and Nairobi (Kibera). These were chosen because of existing research partnerships and ongoing resilience policy and programming that can be augmented by the proposed work. Nairobi and Cape Town are also members of the Rockerfeller 100 Cities programme.

Research impact planning has commenced in the pre-proposal planning stage and will be developed from the start of the project through collaboration with city practitioners and policy makers. City partners have been enthusiastic to collaborate in a project that can help surface competing visions of resilience and how resilience can be used to secure desirable futures from the perspectives of competing urban stakeholders. Partners are keen to compare experiences and lessons learnt form the proposed work and take these forward. The project will produce a single policy brief for each city and two academic papers. It will also convene workshops in London and Warwick to bring practitioners and scientists together to collaborate in research design and in the verification and fine tuning dissemination of results.

Planned Impact

The project impact strategy is based on the potential to help move policy and science interaction beyond communicating strategies to a deeper awareness of both the advantages of combined methodologies for surfacing a fuller range of resilience objects; and for a better understanding of the ethics and politics that shape the positioning and role of science in resilience policy processes. To achieve this impact the project is structured around the principles of codesign and has both immediate and longer-term impact aims. These are detailed in the Pathways to Impact document and summarised here.
Immediate impact goals for resilience programing in each case study city are:
- Forge new or strengthen existing relationships between research and policy stakeholders.
- Provide codesigned outputs for resilience policy making.
- Open awareness of the multiple objects that can be surfaced by resilience planning and of the duties science/knowledge producers have in enabling inclusive planning.

Each case study will present its own dynamics for research and policy impact. In Nairobi, KDI has a long record of using natural and physical science approaches and GIS mapping to identify flood risk, and is now focused on extending these tools to better capture the experience and meanings behind resilience and risk management in Kibera to support broader advocacy for urban governance. Cape Town has recently been awarded Rockerfeller 100 Resilient Cities status and in collaboration with Cape Town City Council work is oriented to inform the development of the city's resilience strategy and programming. In Manilla, Christian's Aid's post-disaster reconstruction programming has identified land-tenure as a key impasse between visions of city level and local resilience, work will help Christian Aid develop tools to surface contrasting visions of resilience and so begin to address these form a technical perspective that can potentially overcome local political tensions. With Nairobi and cape Town both 'Rockerfeller 100' cities scope exists for horizontal learning on the positioning of resilience through project meetings and collaborative writing.
Longer-term impact goals for the proposed project are:

- To open discussion within the Christian Aid family on the role of science in policy making for resilience in humanitarian response and reconstruction.
- To support thinking on methods for surfacing multiple resilience objects and on the wider role of science in policy processes within the UK humanitarian sector through its Interagency Working Group on Resilience (IWRG).
- To engage with the organized international science responses to the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction through the ICSU-ISSC/ISDR Integrated Research on Disaster Risk programme and its seat on the ISDR Science and Technology Advisory Group.

Christian Aid is a partner in three ongoing DFID research projects where King's College London is coordinating Learning and Knowledge Exchange. This provides a forum for learning from the proposed work to inform ongoing resilience policy analysis. The IWRG is an open forum for humanitarian exchange and learning that King's College London and other universities are members of, providing a vehicle for the wider communication, testing, dissemination and for NGO actors to feed into planned work through IWRG workshops. IRDR serves as a broker between research and UNISDR strategy and will be invited to take up methodological innovation and research findings form the proposed work.

Policy briefs are a key mechanism for disseminating findings to policy communities in each case study city. There will not be a dedicated project website, instead the project will feed into the Urban ARK website. This is cost efficient and means both projects will benefit from increased viewings.


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Description Narratives of resilience surface difference of value embedded in urban planning and reinforced through the use of technology such as GIS mapping, popular discourses and public policy. Across three study sites differences were found to be perpetuated through the ways in which research and scientific methodologies were deployed by academic, practitioners and activists. This led to conflict despite the apparently conflict reducing presentation of resilience.
Exploitation Route The more routine use of narrative analysis can help to clarify the cultural-technological context for research, this is of particular use when planning and assessing research impact.
Sectors Environment

URL https://whydarproject.wordpress.com/