Development Co-operation Directorate (DCD-DAC)

Risk and Resilience


Over the last two years, the concept of “resilience” has achieved significant attention on the international stage. Why? Because there is a growing recognition that different types of risks – violence and conflict, climate change, disasters, global shocks, and other risk factors such as urbanisation and ageing populations – are inter-connected. Working in silos no longer makes sense - if we are to deal with these risks properly, donors, development actors, and states will need to work more closely together.

How can “resilience” help?

Resilience offers an excellent rallying point to connect the different policy communities working on different types of risks. Resilience as a common goal has the potential to bring together humanitarians, stabilisation and development actors; actors working on disaster risk reduction, conflict prevention and climate change; and others working on social, economic and institutional development. These actors will be able to join forces to understand how risks can be identified and addressed, and to strengthen the resilience of those people and systems (the “layers”) who need it most – individuals, communities, and developing states and their institutions.

And yet, it has proven difficult to systematically translate the numerous international commitments to resilience, and the on-going goodwill, into better working practices on the ground.

The OECD, under the guidance of the Experts Group on Risk and Resilience, has produced a series of papers to help donors and other actors support the resilience of states and their institutions, communities and households:


Tools for Resilience

Guidelines for Resilience Systems Analysis: A “how-to” guide for field practitioners   The facilitator’s guide for the resilience roadmap workshop   Powerpoint slides for the resilience roadmap workshop







Country resilience roadmaps

Democratic-Republic-of-the-Congo Democratic Republic of the Congo





Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo faces multiple and diverse shocks: conflicts, disasters, illnesses and lack of employment.

A workshop focussed on supporting households so that they have the necessary resources and capacities to absorb, adapt and transform in the face of shocks.


Lebanon is currently facing a range of shocks related to the crisis in Syris that could potentially lead to social unrest in Lebanon itself.

A systems analysis workshop focussed on the resources and the capacities needed to remain resilient to these shocks. Experts at the workshop developed a roadmap to support stabilisation.


Twenty-four years after the start of its civil war, Somalia continues to face interconnected and complex challenges that constrain development.

A workshop convened a wide range of stakeholders to build a shared understanding of the context and build a roadmap for resilience that identifies the resources and capacities needed at different levels of society.

Documents from the workshop

DRC Resilience Roadmap – English
DRC Resilience Roadmap – français
DRC Briefing dossier – français


A full overview of the workshops and complete documents are available.


Documents from the workshop

Lebanon Briefing Pack
Stabilisation Systems Analysis - Lebanon: Results and roadmap



A full overview of this workshop and documents are available.


Documents from the workshop

Resilience systems analysis of Somalia - Participant briefing package
Somalia: Resilience Systems analysis (full report)
Resilience Systems Analysis – Somalia (2-pager)
Somalia snapshot on resilience

A full overview of this workshop and documents are available.


Resilience working papers

What does "resilience" mean for donors ?

Resilience is most often defined as the ability of individuals, communities and states and their institutions to absorb and recover from shocks, whilst positively adapting and transforming their structures and means for living in the face of long-term changes and uncertainty.
Research shows that we should not expect individuals to deal with catastrophic risks, such as major natural disasters, by themselves. Equally, the analysis discourages government policy that aims to remove all risk from individuals and communities, as evidence, particularly in the agricultural sector, shows that this creates perverse incentives and can encourage overly risky behaviour. Instead we need a more holistic risk management approach that focuses on both the interactions between different types of risks, and between the strategies designed to manage those risks.
How can we do this?
By building the policies, strategies and tools that empower individuals, communities and states to effectively manage their own layer of risk.

Joint risk assessment – the first step in resilience programming

Risk assessment guides the optimal allocation of scarce resources to building the resilience of at-risk people, communities and states and their institutions. By identifying and assessing the likelihood and impact of potential shocks and crises, risk assessment provides governments, development, humanitarian, and climate change adaptation partners with the basis for the prioritization of investments in building resilience, in a manner tailored to local conditions, needs and preferences.
The methodology in this paper, which applies the G20/OECD Methodological Framework to developing country contexts, consists of five key components: 1. Governance; 2. Risk analysis; 3. Risk communication and awareness; 4. Crisis and post-crisis impact analysis; 5. Policy and programming implications

What are the right incentives to help donors support resilience?

A number of challenges stand in the way of donors moving towards a focus on building resilience in partner countries. These challenges fall into the following categories:  Contextual – factors in the overall operating environment in partner countries, that shape, and sometimes restrict, how donors can function;  Programmatic – factors that influence how development, climate change and humanitarian assistance programmes are designed and the results that can be achieved; Institutional – structural factors that influence how donors, and their staff, behave and operate.
This paper outlines how these different challenges can limit, and sometimes prohibit, donors from working to strengthen the resilience of people, communities, and states and their institutions. The paper also proposes a menu of incentives that could be useful in different contexts to ensure political buy-in for resilience, to drive behaviour change by all actors, and to ensure that the risk analysis actually leads to the prioritisation of resilience programming

How should donors communicate about risk and resilience?

There has been much talk about risk and resilience over the last couple of years – much talk and perhaps also much confusion. Lack of coherent communication about what resilience means, how results can be measured, and the value that resilience will add to a crowded development agenda, has become a major sticking point in translating what seems like a common-sense concept, with strong political buy-in, into action on the ground. The confusion stems from three main factors: Lack of coherent messages about what resilience entails;  Different actors defining resilience based on narrow mandates, and in a competitive environment for funds, and;  Resistance from experienced actors in the field, who are already struggling to implement existing initiatives.
This paper outlines current approaches to communicating about risk and resilience, and offers guidance on how to communicate about resilience within donor agencies, with partners, and to other important stakeholders such as parliaments and taxpayers.

Risk and Resilience: From Good Idea to Good Practice(3.4 MB pdf)
Annexes - Risk and Resilience: From Good Idea to Good Practice (3.3 MB pdf)



Read this report online or via a mobile device
Read the annexes to the report online of via a mobile device

From good idea to good practice – options to make resilience work (4-page summary)

This paper outlines the key findings from Phase 1 of the work on Risk and Resilience, and outlines the priorities set for Phase 2: Ensuring that resilience and risk are properly integrated into the post-2015 processes;  Simple guidelines for country teams on how to “do” resilience;  Piloting a joint risk assessment in the field, including further work on measuring resilience;  Embedding resilience into donor processes, including the potential role of markers.


Risk financing

A Calculated Risk: OECD Working Paper 17

Better financial preparedness against risk is a central part of a comprehensive approach to disaster management. Risk financing and risk transfer are approaches to planning for risks that cannot be reduced or avoided practically or cost-effectively and may include a strategy and practical measures to ensure the availability of funds for post-disaster relief and reconstruction, commensurate with the scale and frequency of anticipated risks. Risk financing is of growing interest to a wide range of development and humanitarian actors searching for solutions to bridge a growing global post-disaster financing gap. This report describes key features of risk financing and risk transfer, examines some of the current challenges at the contextual and programmatic levels as well as institutional challenges donors might face in engaging in risk financing and recommends a set of principles and policy approaches to guide future donor support and engagement.

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