Articles | Volume 12, issue 7
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 12, 2139–2146, 2012

Special issue: Natural hazard resilient cities

Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 12, 2139–2146, 2012

Research article 10 Jul 2012

Research article | 10 Jul 2012

The identity approach for assessing socio-technical resilience to climate change: example of flood risk management for the Island of Dordrecht

B. Gersonius1, R. Ashley1, and C. Zevenbergen1,2 B. Gersonius et al.
  • 1UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education, Delft, The Netherlands
  • 2Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands

Abstract. Recent EU guidance on adaptation calls for the enhancement of socio-technical resilience to climate change. However, socio-technical resilience is relatively poorly defined and this makes it difficult to apply in practice. This paper uses the concept of identity as a vehicle to advance the definition and assessment of socio-technical resilience. Identity comprises four aspects (components, relationships, innovation, and continuity) that constitute the minimum of what has to be identified and specified if resilience is to be assessed. Characterising the identity of a socio-technical system requires the conceptualisation of these four aspects in relation to the particular function provided by the system (e.g. flood risk management) and also the identification of the specific variables and thresholds that reflect changes in identity. We have demonstrated the utility of the identity approach, using the example of flood risk management for the Island of Dordrecht, the Netherlands. Based on the results, socio-technical resilience has been redefined as the ability of the system to continue to function as expected in the face of change. This definition implies that a system is resilient when it can deliver performance without a change of identity by continuing compliance with standards and expectations.