When resilience is transformative

The COVID-19 pandemic is an event guaranteed to produce long-term social and economic impacts. Someone has even coined the term ‘covidic’ to identify a sort of new era: a pre-COVID era compared to a post-COVID era. We shall see. What is certain is that, thinking about the future, many people believe that this dramatic experience may also serve (and should serve) as an extraordinary opportunity for change. This is yet another wake-up call to engage in truly sustainable development.

The concept of transformative resilience has also been used to indicate this essential process. The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) did this, for example, in a recent study in which it identified the five main ingredients for truly transformative resilience: prevention, preparation, protection, promotion and transformation. Prevention and preparation have so far been insufficient. More resources will therefore need to be invested on these two fronts. Protection has not been given the necessary attention either. In the fourth ingredient, promotion, the theme of education is inherent. It thus becomes fundamental to teach a culture of sustainability, one that allows the fifth measure to be achieved: transformation of processes, products and behaviours.

Even before this crisis, we knew how interdependent the world was, but this coronavirus has led us to experience the effects of this interdependence directly. Let us think for a moment about the famous ‘butterfly effect‘ – Can the flap of a butterfly’s wing in Brazil spur the formation of a tornado in Texas? In a world where distances of time and space have been cancelled out (at least until the pre-COVID era), this is a real starting point for discussion. Using new tools that entail a more systemic vision and better listening skills. The time ahead of us is a time for realism and responsibility.