Improving participatory resilience assessment

New paper presents novel cross-fertilization of two commonly used approaches for applying resilience thinking: the Transition Towns movement and the Resilience Assessment. The study highlights the Transition Movement's motivating overarching narrative of the need to transform in response to global sustainability challenges, which the Resilience Assessment lacks.

The concept of resilience is currently being widely promoted and applied by environmental and development organizations. However, their application of resilience often lacks theoretical backing and evaluation. This study presents a novel cross-fertilization between two major approaches for applying resilience thinking: the Transition Movement (Hopkins 2008, 2011) and the Resilience Alliance’s Resilience Assessment (2010). The authors compared these approaches through a text analysis of their key handbooks and combined them in a series of participatory workshops with a local partner active in the Transition Movement.


The findings highlight the possibility of improving participatory resilience assessment by integrating their complementary strengths: the Transition Movement’s narrative of the need to transform in response to global sustainability challenges, as well as practical tools for learning and participation, with the Resilience Assessment’s scientifically based framework and process for how to generate context-specific understanding of resilience. Combining the approaches also created synergies in fostering complex systems understanding. In particular, the paper provides suggestions for how participatory resilience assessment could better address the need for sustainability transformations. The authors welcome more co-learning processes between resilience practitioners and scientists to mprove the theory and practice of resilience assessment and management for sustainability.


Sellberg, M. M., S. T. Borgström, A. V. Norström, and G. D. Peterson. 2017. Improving participatory resilience assessment by cross-fertilizing the Resilience Alliance and Transition Movement approaches. Ecology and Society 22(1):28. link



PECS - Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society

Stockholm Resilience Centre

Stockholm University
SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Visiting address: Kräftriket 2


The Program on Ecosystem Change and Society (PECS), is a new initiative jointly sponsored by ICSU and UNESCO. It aims to integrate research on the stewardship of social–ecological system and the relationships among natural capital, human wellbeing, livelihoods, inequality and poverty.