In the last decades, the European society has been facing many different challenges. Our society is being transformed by climate change, demographic imbalances and migration pressures just to mention some examples. Therefore, it becomes even more relevant to study our ability to cope with and thrive despite difficulties.
What is resilience?
In this context, resilience is defined as the ability to face shocks and persistent structural changes in such a way that societal well-being is preserved, without compromising the heritage for future generations. Hence, our society should be resilient in a sustainable manner.
Even though there is no unique understanding of the resilience concept in the scientific literature, the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), together with many representatives of Commission Services (Resil.net), took stock of the available expertise to create a shared framework for the definition and measurement of resilience.
This represents a broad, harmonised and evidence informed step towards policies strengthening societal resilience in the European Union. The JRC narrative on resilience takes a multidisciplinary perspective and adopts a wide, 360-degrees approach. Building a more resilient society calls for strengthening the mechanisms of shock absorption and enhancing the capacity for adaptation. Ultimately, it urges to shift towards a paradigm of a more sustainable growth and societal development.
What has the JRC been doing so far?
The first major step was a high-level conference in 2015, which brought together scholars and policy makers to discuss “Building a resilient Europe in a Globalised world” in a holistic way.
In 2016, together with the Secretariat General and representatives of each Directorate General, the JRC and the European Political Strategy Centre (EPSC) established the Research Network for the Measurement of Resilience (Resil.net). The aim of the network is to converge towards a coordinated effort of putting resilience thinking into policymaking. The first result of this joint effort was the JRC conceptual framework on resilience, which provides a theoretical background and defines key concepts and ingredients.
In 2017, the JRC has proposed a corresponding measurement strategy, in its first assessment of the resilience of EU member states to the financial crisis. Today we can rely on many contributors to the measurement of resilience in different fields.
To disseminate these contributions, the JRC publishes a series of reports and working papers.