On Adaptability vs. Resilience

Here I discuss the difference between adaptation and resilience in this answer to an audience question at the January 24, 2012 Signature Lecture for the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

In short, adaptability seems to capture the idea better of changing to deal with new conditions, whereas resilience can imply the ability to return to a previous state. Most resilience scholars are careful to note the difference between the brittleness that comes from returning to a previous state no matter what the cost (e.g., homeowners using flood insurance to rebuild on a flood plain) and the kind of elastic resilience that makes one a better performer in the future, but I still like the easier applicability and lesser degree of confusion with adaptation.