Andrew Young School of Policy Studies
ATLANTA–The National Academies Press released a new report detailing options for communities to effectively measure resilience efforts during and/or after the occurrence of natural disasters in Building and Measuring Community Resilience: Actions for Communities and the Gulf Research Program.
Distinguished University Professor Ann-Margaret Esnard, associate dean for research and strategic initiatives with the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, served on the 14-member committee that issued the report, the Committee on Measuring Community Resilience, a cohort of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
Noting that existing community resilience measurement tools and research have not been able to answer the differing needs of all communities, the report provides four recommendations that communities can use to assist them as they develop efforts to track and measure resilience efforts.
“The report provides actionable recommendations that can be undertaken at a community level to measure community resilience, track progress and, when feasible, engage in activities and initiatives that result in risk reduction and other community benefits,” said Esnard.
According to the committee, communities should: use community participation and engagement at the outset of their resilience building and measurement efforts; design and measure resilience around multiple dimensions of a community; ensure that the data collected, integrated or synthesized for community resilience are relatable and usable for decision-making; and incentivize the measurement of resilience.
These four key actions can help to position communities to alleviate some of the questions that surround the challenges and complexities of resilience practice and measurement.
Prior to publishing the report, the committee spent two years gathering diverse perspectives from policy leaders in eight cities and communities who, through managing previous disasters, have developed successful methods of implementing measurement efforts in the communities they manage. The locations included Pine Reservation, South Dakota; Minot, North Dakota; New York, New York; New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Mississippi.
“These communities include a vast diversity of stakeholders, including government agencies, in a range of small, large, urban, rural and coastal communities with a wide variation in assets, capacities, data and resources or exposure to chronic and acute shocks and stressors,” she said.
The committee found similar themes among the communities they investigated. Each expressed that community engagement from diverse stakeholders is critical to helping communities reach desired outcomes and acknowledged that the idea of resilience involves many other factors that extend beyond disaster management.
While this report completes the work of the committee, it has important implications for the National Academies’ Gulf Research Program (GRP), which received a $500 million endowment to effect change in the Gulf region. Specifically, the report found that the GRP should implement a framework for community resilience that focuses on developing a targeted initiative for community resilience throughout the Gulf region that includes the important elements of a learning collaborative and longitudinal research on resilience.
Esnard, an expert in disaster planning and vulnerability assessment, has remained active with her research. This year she has already released a co-authored book with Diana Mitsova on “Geospatial Applications for Climate Adaptation Planning,” along with several journal articles co-authored with interdisciplinary research collaborators.
Distinguished University Professor
Public Management & Policy
Ann-Margaret Esnard is the Associate Dean for Research and a Distinguished University Professor of Public Management and Policy. She was hired in 2013 as part of the cluster on “Shaping the Future of Cities,” during the third phase of the University’s Second Century Initiative.