Understanding and enhancing future infrastructure resiliency: a socio-ecological approach

The resilience of any system, human or natural, centres on its capacity to adapt its structure, but not necessarily its function, to a new configuration in response to long-term socio-ecological change. In the long term, therefore, enhancing resilience involves more than simply improving a system’s ability to resist an immediate threat or to recover to a stable past state. However, despite the prevalence of adaptive notions of resilience in academic discourse, it is apparent that infra-structure planners and policies largely continue to struggle to comprehend longer-term system adaptation in their understanding of resilience. Instead, a short-term, stable system (STSS) per- spective on resilience is prevalent. This paper seeks to identify and problematise this perspective, presenting research based on the development of a heuristic ‘scenario–episode’ tool to address, and challenge, it in the context of United Kingdom infrastructure resilience. The aim is to help resilience practitioners to understand better the capacities of future infrastructure systems to respond to natural, malicious threats.