Open access peer-reviewed chapter

# Move from Resilience Conceptualization to Resilience Enhancement

By Guangwei Huang and Juan Fan

Submitted: August 11th 2020Reviewed: October 15th 2020Published: November 24th 2020

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.94513

## Abstract

This chapter provides an analysis of various resilience definitions and depicts the differences in definition between engineering, ecological and socio-ecological resilience in an easy-to-understand graphic representation. It also articulates commons and differences between conventional flood risk management and resilience-based flood management and presents a mathematical formulation to facilitate resilience discussion. Furthermore, it highlights some studies and initiatives towards the operationalization of the resilience concept in flood disaster management practice. The most important message this chapter is intended to deliver is that resilience is not just about bouncing back. Indeed, it should be enhanced to bounce forward.

### Keywords

• engineering resilience
• ecological resilience
• socio-ecological resilience
• flood risk
• resistance
• vulnerability

## 5. Current move towards the application of resilience-based flood risk management concept

The importance of resilience building in flood risk management has been well recognized as evidenced by large amounts of academic articles on resilience. In practice, however, resilience concept tends to be only marginally applied as a supplement to flood risk management. There are several well-known initiatives such as Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities programme (100RC) [32], the UNISDR Making Cities Resilient campaign, and the OECD Resilient Cities project [33]. These programs are mainly intended to promote resilience as a source of policy inspiration, and the development of policy instruments for cities to address immediate shocks and long-term stresses that undermine the functions of cities.

In the paper by Gralepois et al. [34], the flood defense strategies in six European countries (Belgium, England, France, the Netherlands, Poland, and Sweden) are analyzed. Although they do not find radical changes in either of the countries, they do find that the defense strategy in all countries has created more room for local, private, and individual responsibilities. In all countries except Sweden, defense remains the primary method of protection, leading the authors to conclude that flood defense has remained a cornerstone of European flood risk management.

The paper by Gersonius et al. [35] addresses the debate as to how transformations from resistance-based to resilience-based approaches can be achieved by studying the implementation of various measures that aim to enhance the flood resilience of the Dutch “Island of Dordrecht.” The case illustrates that a multilayered, i.e., diversified, approach is more effective and efficient than its resistant, i.e., flood defense dominated, counterpart and provides substantial co-benefits. However, it is incompatible with the existing institutional framework. Such an incompatibility may be considered a challenge that will also be present in other countries with an established institutional framework for resistance-based approaches. Then, the authors recommend searching for ways to reinterpret existing frameworks and applying them differently by setting up pilots and experiments to foster social learning.

The paper by Hegger et al. [36] assesses the now prominent assumption that a diversification of flood risk management strategies leads to resilience. They propose that the resilience concept should be operationalized into three capacities: capacity to resist, capacity to absorb and recover, and capacity to adapt and transform, and they compared six countries’ achievements in terms of these capacities. The work found that having a diverse portfolio of strategies in place contributes to resilience, especially in terms of the capacity to absorb/recover and the capacity to adapt and transform. However, the authors also stated in this work that they see different ways to be resilient. The importance of explicating the normative starting points of flood risk governance in a country, considering the unavoidable trade-offs between the three capacities, and assessing strategies’ fit with existing physical circumstances and institutional frameworks was further elucidated in the work.

Despite various efforts to adopt resilience-based approach to flood risk management, the actual application or the operationalization of the resilience concept remains to be explored, planned, tested, and evaluated. At present, many flood-prone regions have good pre-disaster preparation such as flood hazard map, evacuation plan and early warning system. However, few municipalities have resilience-based post-disaster recovery plan or guideline prepared before disaster. Instead, what was often seen is ad hoc recovery plans after disasters.

The Cedar Falls is a residential community located in Eastern Iowa. A good practice of the city is that it has a hazard mitigation plan, which includes a series of future hazard mitigation activities involving a wide range of hazards including floods [37]. Although one of the goals of the plan is to return to pre-disaster or improved conditions as soon as possible after a disaster occurs, the emphasis is placed on prevention than rebuilding. Technical advices on recovery process are limited and general. Suggestions such as “Continue membership with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)” or “Establish and/or maintain Continuity of Government plans to handle post disaster operations (i.e. animal disposal, clean-up, demolition) are important but insufficient.

EPA developed a Flood Resilience Checklist [38] to help communities identify ways to improve their resilience to future floods. It includes five areas: (1) Overall strategies to improve flood resilience; (2) Conserve land and discourage development in flood-prone river corridors; (3) Protect people, businesses, and facilities in vulnerable settlements; (4) Plan for and encourage new development in safer areas; (5) Implement and coordinate stormwater management techniques throughout the whole watershed. The five areas can be regrouped as overall strategies (area 1) as well as specific strategies (areas 2–5).

The area of Overall Strategies to Enhance Flood Resilience is designed to promote the integration of the community’s comprehensive plan and other community’s plans such as open space or park plans with a flood management plan including both structural and non-structural measures. It also promotes community participate in the National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System. For specific strategies such as Incentives for restoring riparian and wetland vegetation in areas subject to erosion and flooding and Acquisition of land (or conservation easements on land) to allow for stormwater absorption, their importance are well recognized and have been pursued in various ways. A representative case is the Room for the Rivers program along the Rhine and Meuse Rivers, which started from 2006 with a $3.3 billion budget from the Dutch government. Flood risk management strategies in the Netherlands have traditionally focused on reducing the probability of flooding [39] by means of dikes, pumps, and canals. After experiencing severe flooding in the 1990s, the Dutch government decided to safeguard flood-prone areas by stepping back from the river to enable the rivers to safely discharge far greater volumes of water. The program resulted in a reduction of water levels by 10–19 cm during high water in target river reaches. Although the primary goal of the Room for the River program is flood attenuation, it also recognizes the importance of esthetics and cultural and ecological elements and has increased biodiversity as the project transformed 4576 acres of land back to natural conditions. Therefore, such an initiative functions as an opportunity rather than a solely means to fix a problem because it is designed not only for river management, but also for social and economic advances. In the meantime, some U.S. communities have also implemented their own Room for the River strategies to deal with flooding. The Iowa River Corridor Project [40], begun after a severe flood in 1993, compensates farmers who permanently stop farming fields in floodplains. Much of the 50,000 acres involved have reverted into natural wetlands, grassland, and bottomland forest, and provide habitat for wildlife. The Napa River in California often floods between November and April. The$400 million Napa River/Napa Creek Flood Control Project is lowering dikes, creating floodplains and a bypass, relocating bridges, and restoring 900 acres of wetlands according to “living river” principles. Floodplain and wetlands restoration projects are also ongoing in other parts of the U.S. such as Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Dakota, Minnesota, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin.

On the other hand, studies focusing solely on disaster recovery have also progressed greatly in parallel to resilience research. Smith and Wenger [41] defined the disaster recovery process as “the differential process of restoring, rebuilding, and reshaping the physical, social, economic, and natural environment through pre-event planning and post-event actions,” while Schwab et al. [42] defined recovery as “Recovery includes restoring housing, transportation, and public services; restarting economic activity; and fostering long-term community redevelopment and improvements. The definition adopted by the UN Office of Disaster Risk Reduction is “decisions and actions aimed at restoring or improving livelihoods, health, as well as economic, physical, social, cultural and environmental assets, systems and activities, of a disaster-affected community or society, aligning with the principles of sustainable development, including build back better to avoid or reduce future disaster risk.” This definition emphasizes both returning the community to normality, which is a short-term objective and sustainable development to be less vulnerable and more capable of dealing with future disaster risk, which is a long-term goal and this long-term goal implies building back a better state, similar to the multi-equilibrium state concept in socio-ecological resilience. Therefore, the dialog between flood resilience researchers and disaster recovery planners should be promoted because it can deepen the understanding of resilience by resilience researchers and contribute to better recover planning for long-term resilience. In other words, the integration of conventional disaster recovery planning with resilience concept is a pathway for resilience building.

## 6. Concluding remarks

Science has revealed that the human immune system has 2 broad functions: (1) defending our body’s health and (2) maintaining our body’s health. Similarly, resilience can be viewed as urban’s or community’s immune system to natural disasters, possessing two functions: (1) resisting to disturbance and (2) maintain its viability. To date, resilience has been mainly understood as the system’s capacity to restore its structure and functions. However, we chose to use the word of viability to emphasize our understanding that resilience is not limited to bouncing back but can bounce forward. In general, there are three options for a damaged system: (1) full restoration, (2) repair, which means the restoration with replacement, and (3) restoration with enhancement. For example, if the life of a city once flooded is now fully back to pre-disaster conditions, then such a situation is full restoration. If the disaster’s impacts can never be fully erased from the city, it is a case of repair. For example, the city of New Orleans was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Fifteen years after the disaster, the population of New Orleans has shrunk from 10 to 15 per cent, especially it lost many African Americans residents, who were either killed in the hurricane or could not afford to come back. This situation led some researchers to declare the housing recovery in New Orleans a secondary disaster [43, 44]. The Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 and the vicious tsunami that followed it caused widespread destruction in the Tohoku region. Rikuzentakata City in Iwate Prefecture is one of the most badly hit cities in the disaster. The recovery plan focuses equally on reconstructing and improving damaged transport networks along the coastline, re-establishing affected local businesses and empowering the disaster-struck agricultural and fishing industries which used to thrive in the area. For the restoration of urban districts, it promoted the introduction of universal design, aiming to create more opportunities for people with disabilities and the elderly to work and do sports as well. Furthermore, residential houses and hospitals have been moved to much less disaster-prone locations. As shown in Figure 4﻿﻿, it is a large-scale project. In total, 298 ha of residential areas were relocated to relatively higher grounds. Such a scale of disaster-mitigation-driven relocation is unprecedented in Japanese history. Furthermore, the coastal protection system has been resigned innovatively. As illustrated in Figure 5﻿﻿, it consists of a double-dike structure with a vegetation zone in-between and submerged breakwater at the front. In light of these developments, Rikuzentakata City can be considered a successful case of restoration with enhancement.

A critical issue in choosing recovery path is the financial cost. The cost of each option may vary greatly, so that resilience building could be constrained by local economic condition. In general, sustainable, resilient water management can be considered costly since it involves engineering and land use challenges and often a long-term process. The financial sustainability of resilience building and enhancement has been largely neglected up to now and deserves serious in-depth study. It is our belief that resilience building should be pursued in relation to economic growth in developing countries. In developed countries, solutions harnessing flood risk while unlocking further development potential should be explored, which require innovation. However, as we may face multiple pathways for building a resilient tomorrow, further studies should be conducted to develop optimal design approaches for resilience building with more than one objective.

Finally, it should be mentioned that conventional flood risk management is probability-based. It deals with the magnitude of potential consequences due to an event or disturbance with a chosen probability of occurrence. It provides little insights into the nature’s or society’s self-restoring or anti-disturbance function and is unable to cope with events with magnitudes of impact exceeding the chosen level. By contrast, resilience-based management is not constrained by likelihood of occurrence and can accept extremely large shocks by allowing adaption to new regimes. Therefore, it is more capable of and more flexible in restoring or reestablishing an affected system. Furthermore, resilience enhancement strategy can lead to better knowledge fusion than conventional flood risk management approach.

## Acknowledgments

This work was supported by Sophia Research Branding Project.

## Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Guangwei Huang and Juan Fan (November 24th 2020). Move from Resilience Conceptualization to Resilience Enhancement, Flood Impact Mitigation and Resilience Enhancement, Guangwei Huang, IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.94513. Available from:

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