What is a resilient society? And why is disruptive change in governance critical to its creation?

This is the first blog posting of the newly created independent, apolitical think tank of Curaçao. If you are reading it, welcome to our site. We hope that you will become involved in our work in order to Think DIFFERENT; DO Change.

Our purpose is to influence, through research and best practice, in order for Curaçao to become a resilient society, in all manners of speaking. There we will begin. We will frame our work around the creation of a resilient society based on best practice, research and bias free decision-making.

Recognizing that there are specific qualities and key areas of functions of a resilient society, we will begin our research focus on governance, its role in and structures to enable resilience.

So, what is a resilient society?

Most research about resilience these days is related to climate change and disaster response, but all these findings apply to all of the threats of rapid change our society is now facing. The future is frightening as we become more and more aware that we are unable to “keep up”. We are curious as to how are other countries becoming resilient. By definition, resilient societies design, redesign organizations, institutions and systems to better absorb disruption, operate under a wide variety of conditions, and shift more fluently from one circumstance to the next.

Resilience, according to the extensive body of research about it, is created by attention to people, to organization (social and economic systems), to place (infrastructure and ecosystems), and to knowledge (evidence-based decision-making). Empirical evidence across the literature about Resilient Societies suggest that such cities/states that exhibit particular qualities or characteristics are more likely to be resilient. These qualities are defined as flexible, redundant, robust, resourceful, reflective, inclusive ad integrated.

Researchers also recognize that government must be at the forefront of the change. They must play a crucial role in disrupting the status quo and championing innovation, as they lead the transition to a resilient society.

In many formal and informal conversations across our community, the notion that the old way (old paradigms) won’t work any more is a common theme. There is awareness and concern that “government” is unwilling to grapple with the fundamental changes that must disrupt the status quo in order for our society to be resilient.

Some would say that those in positions of power are often constrained by out-dated paradigms of thought. This bias toward the status quo limits policy-makers and business leaders alike. There needs to be disruption in order to change.

The notion of a resilient community becomes most relevant when chronic stresses or sudden shocks threaten widespread disruption or the collapse of physical or social systems. Our country faces such disruptions.

So, why is disruption so important to the way government works?

For resiliency to be achieved, the government itself must challenge its own implicit norms and values. Government must be committed to taking decisions on the basis of sound evidence; engaging with business, citizens and civil society groups; and aligning with other governing bodies at a regional and global level. It must be transparent and inclusive. They must embrace innovation and the disruption that technology has on all aspects of society. It must be willing to measure and monitor the multiple factors that contribute to resilience. As the saying goes, “What you measure is what you change.”

Do you believe that Curaçao can become a resilient society? Do you think that the current form of governance will enable the needed transformation?

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