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The Importance of Resilient Thinking

by Stefan Alijevikj on 15th August, 2016 at 3:26 PM CEST

When I think of the problematiques of climate change and good governance, I instantly associate these two as the top priorities that we as a civilization should target, in order we thrive and sustain. Of course, it would be irresponsible to say that only these two deserve the attention, as at the top of this imagined pyramid of most demanding planetary challenges, we could also see food production, oceans acidificiation, global overpopulation, depleted resources, wealth distribution and poverty, so on and so forth. 

In the midst of all these challenges lies the resilient thinking, and such type of thinking should be an embedded practice and feature of the human kind as a whole in the 21st century. What does it mean and why I think it is so much important that we all as communities should develop strong resilient thinking?

It is defined as "the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change so as to still retain essentially the same function, structure, identity, and feedbacks" (Walker et al. 2004:4) That would be a very brief defintion of what resilient thinking is - a systematic thinking of the future. It's a mindset that should enable the individual and the community, to act fast and smart in case of climate, environmental, social, economic or any other type of catastrophy. 

What triggered my mind to realize how important resilient thinking should be (and how much we lack such thinking in certain situations), was more specifically the very recent and unfortuante event of the floods that wiped away whole districts in the capital of Macedonia, Skopje. The floods destroyed the homes of many, and more than 20 people have lost their lives. It rained only three hours of heavy rain on the night of 6th of August, 2016. In the time instance of three hours, the infrastructure of the city failed and water was not able to be pumped out of the streets. The city literally failed to answer a short and turbulent summer storm. Many people asked, what would happen if such storm lasted for couple of more hours?

Thousands of lightnings in Skopje during the summer storm (6.8.2016) photo credits: Blagoj Eftimov

We were all shocked of the storm and the floods, also, more shoked to see that the institutions are failing to manage the situation as many people were in dire need for help. It was a sort of an institutional system failure. It was lack of resilient thinking. We were able to see that better governance came from citizens themselves, who voluntary, self-organized and started to help the affected zones of the city. It was unimaginable that three hours of rain can take away the lives of more than 20 people and do such damage. 

Being away from home, reading all these sort of news, I thought that you can never be certain about anything anymore. Where the place you leave for a couple of days may not be the same upon your return. Everything can be changed for not a good reason. That there could be an incalculable number of causalities. So yes, the floods of Skopje are local example of lack of resilient thinking. It is a consequence of not a good governance. Such event just framed for me a school example of what illustrates a risky future, an anxious future, where our lives can be lost in an instance and our homes in a minute.

Then, there is nobody else but you who can help yourself. That first and foremost, it is in your own hands, if you survive. It is in your own luck, intellgence and knowledge, your very own organizationa and resilience. The resilient mind should answer the best, for the individual and for the community, when there is the dire need for help. 

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Stefan Alievikj

Stefan Alievikj | C:F staff

to stay up to date on the developments in Skopje after the floods, you can use the following hashtags on the social media to follow:
#skopjefloods and #поплава

15th August, 2016 @ 4:43 PM CEST

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