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Building Resilience: an opportunity to create shared value

July 21, 2014

“Shocks and stresses are growing in frequency, impact and scale, with the ability to ripple across systems and geographies. But cities are largely unprepared to respond, withstand, and rebound when disaster strikes. The greatest burden of these increasing shocks, such as the impacts of climate change or public health threats, often falls on poor and vulnerable people who have limited resources to cope with disaster and who take longer to recover from it, disrupting livelihoods and increasing inequality.” – The Rockefeller Foundation

Resilience can be defined as the ability of a system, entity, community or person to withstand shocks while still maintaining its essential functions. Resilience also refers to the ability to recover quickly and effectively from catastrophe and the capability to endure greater stress.

Originally a Stoic concept, it is gaining traction as a part of the disaster risk adaption discourse as  ‘building resilience’ – making people, communities, and systems better prepared to withstand catastrophic events – both natural and manmade – and more able to bounce back quickly and stronger. Humans are not born with resilience – we learn it, adapt it, and improve upon it. The same is true for organisations, systems, and societies, hence  is an opportunity for organisations to think about new polices or practices that enhance the competitiveness of their company by incorporating resilience for the benefit of the company and its various stakeholders in order to create shared value.

United Nations – Hyogo Framework for Action

The concept was re-addressed and emphasised after the development of the United Nations’ Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA): Building the resilience of nations and communities to disaster in 2005. A ten year plan to explain, describe and detail the work that is required from all different sectors and actors to reduce disaster losses, with five priorities for action:

  1. Ensure that disaster risk reduction is a national and a local priority with a strong institutional basis for implementation.
  2. Identify, assess and monitor disaster risks and enhance early warning.
  3. Use knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels.
  4. Reduce the underlying risk factors.
  5. Strengthen disaster preparedness for effective response at all levels.

Click here to read the interim report on Australia’s implementation of the Hyogo Framework for action.

Global Initiatives and Collaborations

Since then, the implementation efforts have evolved into various global initiatives and collaborations such as:

The R!SE initiative – working to create risk-resilient societies and making investments risk-sensitive with an alliance of business, public sector, education, civil society, insurance, and investors, such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, AECOM, United Nations, and The Economist, working around eight activity streams.

Making Cities Resilient: My City is Getting Ready – addressing issues of local governance and urban risk. Click here to see which Australian local governments are already involved.

The Disaster Resilience Scorecard for Cities – a set of assessments developed by UNISDR, IBM, and AECOM.

The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Challenge – One of the Shared Value Initiative’s Funding Partners, The Rockefeller Foundation launched the 100 Resilient Cities Challenge in 2013 to enable 100 cities, including Melbourne, to individually become more resilient, and facilitate the building of a global practice of resilience among governments, NGOs, the private sector, and individual citizens.

Resilience Building in Australia

The Shared Value Project recently attended a United Nations Association of Australia leadership seminar held in partnership with the National Australia Bank (NAB) entitled ‘Adaption and Disaster Risk Reduction: Shared Risks to Shared Values’, and heard from some of Australia’s leaders in this space and learnt about some of the Australian initiatives in the works including:

The Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience and Safer Communities – business leaders representing a cross-section of the Australian economy with members including the Australian Red Cross, Insurance Australia Group (IAG), Investa Property Group, Munich RE, Optus, and Westpac Group.

The White Paper – Building our Nation’s Resilience to Natural Disasters – produced by the roundtable by Deloitte Access Economics.

AECOM’s Climate Resilience Infrastructure

Council of Australian Governments’ ‘National Strategy for Disaster Resilience’

Australian Emergency Management Institute’s ‘National Strategy for Disaster Resilience – Community Engagement Framework Handbook’

The discussions highlighted how the ‘building resilience’ discourse and disaster risk management is being engaged with increasing interest in Australia as an alternative to climate change adaption in order to adapt to the current political context in the country. Policy responses to both have been developed largely in isolation to date, however they have come together through ‘building resilience’, as they share the common goal of increasing community resilience. (Griffith University, 2012)

These ideas also built upon the discussions at the Melbourne Conversations event in March 2014 that launched the 100 Resilient Cities Challenge in Melbourne, and also included a hypothetical debate for a heatwave taking place in 2020. Initiated after the extreme heat in Melbourne during the summer of 2014, estimated to have cost businesses in the municipality approximately $37 million in lost revenue, according to the City of Melbourne via their recent Heatwave Business Impacts research, and exposed a number of opportunities for improvements in the city by government, businesses and public services, and to engage in building resilience.

An opportunity for creating shared value

The private sector is starting to become heavily involved in building resilience and disaster risk management in collaboration with the public sector. Not just for the sake of their organisation and customers but for broader society.

If investments are disaster risk sensitive, this will create shared value, expressed AECOM, one of the world’s leading infrastructure and support services firms, in their recent announcement that they will be leading resilient cities activities.

Building resilience can provide an opportunity for organisations to create shared value by integrating policies and practices into their businesses that help to ensure not only the future of its essential functions, operating ability, and competitiveness during times of shock, but also the preparedness, security, and insurability of their customers, stakeholders and broader society.


Briar Lloyd is Project Coordinator at the Shared Value Value Project.
For more information about Building Resilience or shared value in Australia, email Briar via

Image cred: Outsource Magazine