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Time to invest in global resilience

Cranfield University, Bedford, UK.
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Cranfield University, Bedford, UK.

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Cranfield University, Bedford, UK.

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Cranfield University, Bedford, UK.

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Cranfield University, Bedford, UK.

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Cranfield University, Bedford, UK.

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Investment in resilience is too frequently made only during or after a crisis — with the COVID‑19 pandemic being one of the latest examples. A different approach is becoming ever more urgent if we are to secure the resilience of our society and natural resources (see, for example, Nature 581, 119; 2020).

This approach must go beyond siloed strategies to include all five components of the system in which we live. These ‘five capitals’ are natural, human, social, built and financial, along with their interdependencies and feedbacks. They form a framework for sustainability, which will enable long-term planning for global resilience.

Such an approach would involve a shift from classifying the probability and consequence of known threats to addressing multiple hazards and recoverability. Emergent and interconnected issues, including adaptive capacity in organizations and critical infrastructure, must be actively managed. And we need to find ways to get company boards, governments and society in general to invest in resilience — even when there is not yet an economic argument for doing so (see also G. K. Marinov Nature 581, 262; 2020).

Long-term planning and investment can be guided by short-term emergency responses, effective adaptation to repeated shocks and proper preparation for unexpected events (H. Weise et al. Oikos 129, 445–456; 2020).

Nature 583, 30 (2020)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-020-01951-z

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