Disaster Resilience: Building resilience to "bounce forward"

IIASA is engaging in a ground-breaking multi-year partnership to take forward the discourse and research on bolstering flood resilience.

Flood in Australia © Chris.Gray | flickr Creative Commons License

Flood in Australia

The concept of resilience was importantly shaped by Buzz Holling and colleagues at IIASA. Resilience has become fundamental to science-informed discourses, such as those on managing risk, climate change, and well-being. Yet, it has been largely unclear how to operationalize and integrate resilience with development-oriented approaches.

The stage is being set for a new multi-year collaboration alliance between IIASA and partners to identify and address research gaps on flood resilience and community-based disaster risk reduction. The alliance is already demonstrating the benefits of pre-event risk reduction over post-event disaster relief and improving public dialog on disaster resilience. 

IIASA’s role is to apply systems science methods to inform enhanced flood resilience strategies and to break new ground by applying advanced modeling techniques that truly respond to stakeholder requests and needs.  

The research will be innovative in the design of robust, user-accepted, and user-friendly policy support that can help build consensus among those at risk, local and national policymakers, civil society, the private sector, and donors. The aim is to devise better flood resilience strategies that can be implemented in highly vulnerable localities in the developing and industrialized world. 

A first working paper has been issued by the partners. This has led to an innovative definition of resilience in terms of "bouncing forward" (compared to the traditional notion of bouncing back) as being “the ability of a system, community or society to pursue its social, ecological and economic development objectives while managing its disaster risk over time in a mutually reinforcing way.”


  • Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, USA.
  • Zurich Insurance Group, Switzerland.
  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
  • Practical Action, UK.

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Last edited: 22 May 2014


Joanne Linnerooth-Bayer

Emeritus Research Scholar

Risk and Resilience

T +43(0) 2236 807 308

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