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Understanding resilience in international development

Since 2020, as part of its Defining Key Concepts Series, Philanthropy for Social Justice and Peace (PSJP) has been addressing whether resilience  – the buzzword of the moment, is a useful concept in development. Initial results were published in 2021 in Building resilience in international development. The paper shares the elements of resilience strategies such as local leadership, for development organizations and funders that are essential to bring about transformation. PSJP followed up with further explorations and produced this second report on the topic.

In the discourse of development and philanthropy, the term resilience is used across the spectrum between two poles. In some contexts, resilience means weathering the transition to change, while in others it implies endurance and adaptation and is used to protect the status quo. In this paper, this paradox is explored. The goal is to develop an understanding of resilience in development and philanthropy so that it can be applied more meaningfully in our work.

This paper is based on a dialogue between 14 practitioners from civil society and philanthropy organized in December 2021 with Eva Rehse of Global Greengrants Fund and Halima Mahomed, a research fellow at TrustAfrica, as provocateurs who drew out the tension between two poles of resilience and set up the conditions for us to explore where we stand.

Authors: Barry Knight (CENTRIS) and Chandrika Sahai (PSJP) with contributions from Halima Mahomed (TrustAfrica), Tamzin Ractliffe (Impact Trust) and Eva Rehse (Global Greengrants Fund).

Published by: Global Greengrants Fund, Impact Trust, Philanthropy for Social Justice and Peace and TrustAfrica

Published: August 2022

Download: ‘Understanding resilience in international development

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