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National resilience indicators

It’s clear that to effectively build resilience, successful governance is required but we have already discussed how disparate the factors that constitute resilience are. So, how do you prioritise the emphasis of resilience-building activities?

The World Economic Forum (WEF) identifies and promotes resilience at a national level. They assess resilience as having five key features split across two domains: characteristics and performance (WEF 2013).

Resilience characteristics

Redundancy: the possession of enough capacity or backup to enable the maintenance of core functionality when disturbances occur.

Resourcefulness: the ability to adapt and respond flexibly to unforeseen events, often with the ability of transforming impacts from negative to positive.

Robustness: the ability to absorb and withstand disturbances.

Resilience performance

Respond: the ability to mobilise resources in the event of a crisis. This includes the ability to gather information effectively, make decisions and communicate relevant data to others in a timely fashion.

Recover from a shock: the ability to return to a degree of normality following a crisis and show a degree of adaptability to evolve to deal with new circumstances.

WEF resilience indicators

Within the World Economic Forum, a group of economists and experts strive each year to depict and characterise the elements and factors that will affect resilience.

These, they assert, will be trends and major influences on the shape and trajectory of nations and geopolitical relationships where specific trends and dynamics are highlighted as more likely than not to happen in the near future.

The diagnostic tool is intended to measure the resilience of a country to global risks by treating it as a system composed of subsystems.

Five subsystems and five components

The five core subsystems include (WEF 2013):

  • Economic subsystem: includes aspects such as the macroeconomic environment, goods and services market, financial market, labour market, sustainability and productivity.

  • Environmental subsystem: includes aspects such as natural resources, urbanisation and the ecological system.

  • Governance subsystem: includes aspects such as institutions, government, leadership, policies and the rule of law.

  • Infrastructure subsystem: includes aspects such as critical infrastructure, namely communications, energy, transport, water and health.

  • Social subsystem: includes aspects such as human capital, health, the community and the individual.

Further resources

Watch the following video that introduces the WEF resilience indicators.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

An alternative source for information on these indicators can be found on the WEF website. You may find it useful to look at the descriptions of the subsystems on pages 38 and 39.


World Economic Forum (2013) Global Risks 2013: Eighth Edition [online]. available from http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GlobalRisks_Report_2013.pdf

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This article is from the free online course:

Foundations in Resilience, Security and Emerging Technology

Coventry University