Complexity, uncertainty and resilience

Authored by: Jon Coaffee

The Routledge Companion to Environmental Planning

Print publication date:  August  2019
Online publication date:  July  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138894808
eBook ISBN: 9781315179780
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter discusses how ideas of complexity, uncertainty and ultimately resilience have emerged as key policy dynamics in environmental planning in the 21st century. This chapter charts a transition from utilising risk-based approaches, or early approaches to ecological resilience to deal with disruption and disaster, to one that embraces new forms of resilience thinking in order to accept and embrace the volatility and unpredictably of environmental systems. It is further highlighted how the evolution of resilience and its embedding into environmental sustainability policy agendas is not only leading to fundamental questions about reimagining the future in a new era of risk, crisis and uncertainty but also illuminates governmental attempts to get everyone to take resilience seriously. On one hand, this highlights a top-down driven rhetoric where policy makers are being steered to incorporate resilience in environmental planning. On the other hand, it also highlights the potential of bottom-up resilience development where the focus is upon local issues and developing community resilience to better cope and thrive in complexity and adversity.

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