Community resilience is defined as the sustained ability to use resources to respond to, withstand, recover and bounce forward from adverse situations. Community resilience is only as strong as the networks, relationships and resources that are available to support individual and community well-being and quality of life. Community resilience also requires planning and emergency preparedness to mitigate the shocks and stresses brought on by climate change.
Climate change will impact regional communities in different ways. Based on differences in land geography, socio-demographic characteristics, health or housing quality, some communities may have significantly higher vulnerabilities and less capacity to be resilient.
Black, brown and other frontline communities are, by definition, disproportionately impacted by climate change, experiencing these impacts first and worst. Where existing inequality lies, disaster tends to have a more devastating effect.
An understanding of current levels of community resilience will provide a platform for developing community-driven or local government-led strategies that strengthen this resilience over time. Resilience cannot be fully understood from data and mapping alone. Engaging with and listening to vulnerable communities that face the greatest threats will tell a more complete story. In support of this, providing neighborhoods with educational programming, as well as community engagement toolkits and guidance will be essential.
Building and sustaining relationships with community leaders, organizations serving vulnerability communities, and actively bringing new and diverse voices into the fold is a cornerstone of this community resilience work ahead of all of us.