BUILD RESILIENCE: getting ready to bounce back

The development of modern technologies along with the acceleration of globalization and increasing inequalities are generating new paradigms and unpredictable risks. This has huge impact on populations all over the world. Today, millions of people are coping with crises stemming from climate change, violent extremism, organized crime, and a general lack of vision on how to develop sustainable responses. Threats, uncertainties and socioeconomic disparities, and the need for new effective and innovative approaches are symbiotic in every corner of the world.

Over the recent years, the word “resilience” is occupying the vocabulary of the global community. Why? It appears that we have entered a phase where we must cope with problems and adversities that we failed to anticipate and address from the very beginning. The word resiliency per se represents an admission of the need to survive and adapt to a variety of exponential changes that find us unprepared. “Resilience is an individual’s ability to generate biological, psychological and social factors to resist, adapt and strengthen itself, when faced with an environment of risk, generating individual, social and moral success.”[1] Resilience expresses the abilities of people, communities and systems to deal with challenges or crises.

In the field of crime and justice, developing resilience within and among institutions, social systems, communities and individuals requires a thorough knowledge of its causes and the possible ways to prevent escalation.

This issue of F3 includes articles describing different areas where resilience should be built. They offer a variety of perspectives, illustrating the necessity of enhancing resilience in institutions, systems and societies to achieve human rights for all, prevent and counter violent extremism and mitigate risks and respond to threats. The articles of this issue are closely connected to the Sustainable Development Goal 16 of the United Nations 2030 Agenda, which aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies, provide access to justice and strengthen institutions and accountability. In addition, Goals 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14 are also referred in these articles, embodying the connections between resilience and education, gender equality, online security, youth empowerment, community policies, environmental crimes and so on.

The importance of building collective resilience cannot be ignored. For example, once a crime is committed, a criminal justice institution focusing on both the processes of desistance and recovery, and the harm endured by both victims and perpetrators, helps ensure true justice. When confronted with challenges and crises, countries with enhanced international cooperation and harmonized legal frameworks to the relevant conventions and treaties have shown to be more resilient. Enhancing community resilience facilitates the promotion of social justice, development and the protection of vulnerable groups. Collaborative communities can play a significant role in shaping the future of young people, their ability to find a role in the society through education and skills development. Building resilience at the individual level helps people better tackle current and potential crises, for instance, taking personal actions to guarantee their online privacy as well as recognizing sensitive and violent information in social media and the Internet to deal with cybercrime or cyber violence.

We are standing at a crossroad, and resilience helps guide us to a positive direction. To achieve a world of respect for dignity and diversity, the rule of law, justice and development, all sides must act together and make collaborative efforts to implement comprehensive responses.

Building resilient societies give us the possibility of reshaping a resilient world.

As a central and transformative guide of the 2030 Agenda and its SDGs, the promise “Leaving no one behind” still faces challenges and threats stemming from inequalities and vulnerabilities. Recent days have witnessed a wave of demonstrations around the world, from the Middle East to Latin America and the Caribbean… from Europe to Africa and Asia. Behind those protests in cities across the world, there are economic issues relating to systems and political demands coming from people. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations said: “The global wave of demonstrations we are witnessing shows a growing lack of trust between people and political establishments. People are hurting and want to be heard. We must listen to the real problems of real people, and work to restore the social contract.”[2]

Researchers identified resilience as a process, not a trait. From the lessons learned all along this adaptation process, we may extrapolate the answers we need to use the governance tools, knowledge and cooperation mechanisms to eradicate the problems we are facing. Instead of limits itself to building resilience, a real advanced society should be able to prevent crises before it is too late and before an adaptation is needed. A real advanced society requires focus pertaining to the commitment of doing what is possible before a situation gets to the point of crisis and should be able to expand its advances.

One day we will achieve a world where no one is left behind; the hope is that this world will have created the conditions for true sustainability. Charles Darwin said that “It is not the most intellectual or the strongest of species that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able to adapt to and adjust best to the changing environment in which it finds itself.” Compared to the past, changes are occurring at an exponential rate that obliges us to develop the capacity to anticipate and mitigate negative consequences. We want the change to continue for the best of humankind, minimizing uncertainty, fear, pressure and lack of vision. We need to develop the tools and resources to build resilience.

The only vision that can lead humankind is the one the United Nations has offered since its very creation, almost 75 years ago. The Charter of the United Nations includes the antidotes to address our current problems. We just need the political will to implement a concept of global solidarity. I hope we will reach the day when we replace resiliency with global solidarity to be one step ahead of the challenges of our global village.


[1]     Colchado, Oscar Chapital. (2018). “Resiliencia: Una propuesta de concepto y de etapas de desarrollo.” Instituto Nacional para la Evaluación de la Educación. https://www.academia.edu/38119923/Resiliencia_Una_propuesta_de_concepto_y_de_etapas_de_desarrollo

[2]     https://twitter.com/antonioguterres/status/1187794920846876672?lang=en