Friday, January 17, 2014

Why Resilience Beats Sustainability: Rob Hopkins on Transition in the City (Video)

English: Resilience in different ecosystems
Resilience in different ecosystems (Wikipedia)
by Sami Grover, Tree Hugger:

Yesterday I posted about the new film from the creators of the End of Suburbia.

 This time around, the focus is on cities - and how cities can adapt to future shocks from peak oil, climate change, food shortages and heaven knows what else might be thrown at us.

No word yet on when the film itself will be released, but select material is beginning to appear on YouTube, including an interview with Rob Hopkins, creator of the Transition Movement.

Covering everything from how Transition developed, through the concept of resilience and how it differs from sustainability, and even offering a few choice words on the failure of the environmental movement to engage the general public, Rob is on particularly insightful form.

I have, of course, interviewed Rob Hopkins for TreeHugger before, and being a massive fan of what the Transition Movement has achieved, I've covered his musings on everything from how solar living increases energy literacy to the lessons to be learned from climategate.

Yet even with all that coverage, the excerpt from the interview below stands out for offering probably the most concise explanation yet of how resilience differs from sustainability, and why that matters:

"I think, for me, in the times we are moving into now the concept or resilience is a much more useful idea than that of sustainability. Sustainability implies that we are trying to design a steady-state system with less inputs and less outputs than we have at the moment, which can carry on indefinitely".

"Whereas actually what we need to be designing for is the ability to withstand shock. But a lot of the literature about resilience talks about it meaning that a system can take shock, and then reform into its previous state. Whereas increasingly, the way people are starting to look at it, it's about seeing that shock as an opportunity to change."

More on the Transition Movement and Resilience
Building Resilience: Meeting Peak Everything with Systems Thinking
An Interview with Rob Hopkins of Transition Towns and Transition Culture
TED Talk: Transition Founder Rob Hopkins on Peak Oil, Resilience and Sustainability (Video)
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