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Research Urban and Regional Studies Institute Coastal Resilience Research Group International workshop


Coastal resilience
Coastal resilience

The term ‘resilience’ has remarkably quickly gained currency in academia as well as in practice and is nowadays widely promoted as a promising concept to deal with shocks and uncertainties in the face of environmental, social and economic crises. However, there remains ‘an apparent gap between the advocacy of socio-ecological resilience in the scientific literature and its take-up as a policy discourse on the one hand, and the demonstrated capacity to govern for resilience in practice on the other’ (Wilkinson 2012: 319) .

Due to the ambiguity of the concept ‘resilience’, research has largely focused on exploring the meaning of the concept, a few recent examples include: ‘Resilience and regions: building understanding of the metaphor’ (Pendall, Foster, & Cowell, 2010), ‘Resilience: a bridging concept or a dead end?’ (Davoudi, 2012), and ‘Resilience and disaster risk reduction: an etymological journey’ (Alexander, 2013). Relating to the above, the goal of this international workshop ‘Resilience: Just do it?!’ is to bring the ‘resilience discussion’ a step forward: from ‘defining’ resilience to ‘doing’ resilience – from concept to action.

Resilience – just do it?! Although the concept sounds promising in theory, it is difficult to implement in practice. Current practices show that resilience is often used as a panacea to all kinds of problems. The term ‘resilience’ therefore runs the risk of becoming a heavily contested buzzword. As a recent special issue in Planning Practice and Research (2013), edited by O’Hare and White, illustrates, the way the concept of resilience has been used in practice to date is not always unproblematic. In some cases ‘resilience’ might simply be a means to redress a problem and to justify an outdated or inherently unjust policy. In other cases resilience may be so vague and far removed from its meaning that a so called ‘resilience approach’ may lead to less desirable, not nearly resilient, outcomes. Therefore, this international workshop aims at exploring ways of ‘doing’ resilience, but will still keep a critical lens on ethical, social and political issues at stake. The further aim is to bring researchers and practitioners with different (levels of) expertise together to discuss the ways they conceptualize and use resilience.


  • Alexander, D. E., 2013. Resilience and disaster risk reduction: an etymological journey. Natural Hazards and Earth Systems Sciences Discussions, 1, 1257-1284.
  • Davoudi, S., 2012. Resilience: A bridging concept or a dead end? Planning Theory and Practice, 13, 299-307.
  • O’Hare, P. and White, I., 2013. Deconstructing resilience: Lessons from Planning Practice. Planning Practice and Research (special issue), 28, 275-279.
  • Pendall, R., Foster, K. a, & Cowell, M., 2009. Resilience and regions: building understanding of the metaphor. Cambridge Journal of Regions Economy and Society, 3, 71–84.
  • Wilkinson, C., 2012. Urban resilience: What does it mean in Planning Practice? Planning Theory and Practice, 13, 319-324.
Last modified:09 March 2020 12.27 p.m.