Risk and resilience in foreign policy

28-09-2015

The complexity of risks affecting the world is illustrated by the interconnected nature of conflicts, natural hazards, water shortages and state collapse. The current migratory challenge Europe is facing is yet more evidence that distance or the natural borders inherent in seas, mountains and deserts are of little significance when people are confronted with challenges like conflict, fragility, and failure of governance. These risks are further accentuated by a number of global trends including climate change, urbanisation and population ageing. An evolving and complex risk landscape implies a continuous need to confront stresses and uncertainty, and hence requires constant adaptation. Resilience – understood as the capacity of different layers of society to withstand, to adapt, and to recover quickly from stresses and shocks – has gradually emerged as a concept bridging different policy areas: humanitarian aid, development assistance, disaster-risk reduction, climate-change adaptation, conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Stressing the need for breaking the silos between different policy areas and developing holistic approaches to risk, resilience is gradually becoming one of the key concepts of foreign and security policy.

The complexity of risks affecting the world is illustrated by the interconnected nature of conflicts, natural hazards, water shortages and state collapse. The current migratory challenge Europe is facing is yet more evidence that distance or the natural borders inherent in seas, mountains and deserts are of little significance when people are confronted with challenges like conflict, fragility, and failure of governance. These risks are further accentuated by a number of global trends including climate change, urbanisation and population ageing. An evolving and complex risk landscape implies a continuous need to confront stresses and uncertainty, and hence requires constant adaptation. Resilience – understood as the capacity of different layers of society to withstand, to adapt, and to recover quickly from stresses and shocks – has gradually emerged as a concept bridging different policy areas: humanitarian aid, development assistance, disaster-risk reduction, climate-change adaptation, conflict prevention and peacebuilding. Stressing the need for breaking the silos between different policy areas and developing holistic approaches to risk, resilience is gradually becoming one of the key concepts of foreign and security policy.