What Is Climate Resilience?

Simply put, climate resilience is about our ability to adapt and transform our relationship to the larger natural world. More specifically, climate resilience is about identifying and making small-scale changes to effect large-scale transformation of how we move forward the relationship between culture and nature on our planet.

What does this mean for me? 

  • Learning and understanding everything I can learn about my relationship with the natural world–with resources, waste, my impact on economies, cultures, and the choices available to others.
  • Actively making choices that support an understanding of our role in an ecosystem of relationships. For example: using equipment and clothing that have a clear, transparent, and intentional resource and manufacturing process.
  • Assessing whether my impact in our shared ecosystem is about mitigating impact, or about actively enhancing both our relationships with and our understanding of the whole ecosystem of which we are a part.
  • Empowering others to find & follow their own paths to a culture of resilience.
  • Above all else, developing relationships that are about gratitude, support, and thoughtful action.

Maybe it’s because I’ve been a college faculty member for more than twenty years, but I think it’s always important to look at the broader context of any concept like this (and yes, I can also anticipate the eye roll : ).

So, according to the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University,

Resilience is the capacity of a system, be it an individual, a forest, a city or an economy, to deal with change and continue to develop. It is about the capacity to use shocks and disturbances like a financial crisis or climate change to spur renewal and innovative thinking. Resilience thinking embraces learning, diversity and above all the belief that humans and nature are strongly coupled to the point that they should be conceived as one social-ecological system.

Many of the words in this overview resonate strongly with the ideas behind Athletes for Climate Resilience: the capacity of resilience to “spur renewal” and “innovative thinking,” to “continue to develop,” and as an idea that “embraces learning” and diversity.

Why Athletes? 

Think about how all of our different sports and adventures both interact with–depend upon, really–the environment. Snowpack, seasonality, ocean currents, river levels, ice-out, temperature–all are essential to what we do every day.

At the same time, though, we also depend upon transportation, equipment, food, and other support to get us into the mountains, or onto the rivers or trails or roads.

Athletes for Climate Resilience is about addressing these two issues head on: how can we make thoughtful choices and intentional changes that can contribute to large-scale transformations in how we think about and get out and explore this world we share.

Consider how innovation, development, and education are all essential parts of any leading-edge pursuit. We have the tools we need; let’s use them to leverage some real change.

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