Building resilience beyond the crisis

in Regions and Cohesion
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  • 1 Université du Luxembourg, Luxembourg
  • 2 Université du Luxembourg, Luxembourg
  • 3 INECOL, Mexico
  • 4 CIESAS-Sureste, Mexico

April 2021 is here, one year and a month after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a state of emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic. The vaccines have arrived, bringing us closer to the end of this crisis, but COVID-19 is not gone; therefore, the call for action remains relevant. We want to take this opportunity to remember and embrace the emphasis that has been put on the need for joint efforts and coordinated strategies, so we can thrive together, bringing everyone on board irrespective of geographic, economic, and political differences.

April 2021 is here, one year and a month after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a state of emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic. The vaccines have arrived, bringing us closer to the end of this crisis, but COVID-19 is not gone; therefore, the call for action remains relevant. We want to take this opportunity to remember and embrace the emphasis that has been put on the need for joint efforts and coordinated strategies, so we can thrive together, bringing everyone on board irrespective of geographic, economic, and political differences.

As mentioned in our previous editors’ note, Regions & Cohesion joins those voices in public debates calling for the “new normality” to be the “new sustainability” (Koff & Maganda, 2021), and in this issue we engage with a participative, collaborative, and strong sustainability while analyzing the dynamic natures of borders, which can support or undermine sustainable development. There seems to be a worldwide learning process from the positive and negative results of multiple mechanisms implemented to prevent, contain, and tackle COVID-19, so it seems to be an appropriate moment to begin organizing policy reflections that surpass addressing the immediate health crisis in order to avoid the short-term thinking trap in policy-making (Nair & Howlett, 2016). This note builds on the WHO's March 2020 declaration that highlighted how every sector and individual should be involved in the fight against COVID-19. It states that the world must, “take a whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach, built around a comprehensive strategy to prevent infections, save lives and minimize impact … look out for each other and innovate” (Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at media briefing on COVID-19, March 11, 2020). To build resilience, we must enhance collective learning and share knowledge accordingly. Unfortunately, despite initial signs of solidarity in 2019 and 2020, 2021 has been characterized by vaccine nationalism and unequal distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

As we see how the multiple effects of the pandemic unfold and how, despite the rapid development of vaccines, the inequitable vaccine access jeopardizes a healthy post-pandemic future (The Lancet, 2021), one thing has become very clear: if we do not pull together in a collective and inclusive way, we are going to remain in an emergency situation, and the long-term effects of the pandemic will be much bigger than those initially expected. If these long-term considerations are excluded from decision-making in our pandemic responses, we might see an increased and self-created vulnerability (García Acosta, 2018) and a considerable decrease in resilience. This is why we continue our optimistic commitment for renewed resilience: coping with shocks and sustaining our natural and human systems, providing a balanced development in which nature and humanity can coexist. The articles of this issue, the second of 2021, and our second Open Access delivery reflect this perspective. They include a series of contributions stressing the importance of continuing the discussion about human development, health and climate change, natural resources and transboundary dynamics.

The first article of this issue, by Zhinding Hu and Victor Konrad, analyzes the changes in transboundary dynamics of the China–Southeast Asia border: the formerly restricted interaction between these regions has shifted into a controlled but semi-permeable “security-scape” with corridors and points of crossing and areas of exclusion and exception, showing how the changing economic and social context has led to a change in transboundary dynamics.

The second article in this issue is a broad analysis of factors that promote resilience to hurricanes; it stresses how there is a growing body of literature on resilience, but it is characterized by dispersed knowledge. Adolfo Lucero Álvarez and his collaborators show how resilience is a multidisciplinary concept in which several fields of knowledge fields converge in defining it as a capacity that allows for absorbing and recovering from disasters. The article also categorizes the factors that promote resilience, highlighting a dominance of infrastructure factors, and documents the emergence of social perspectives.

The third article in this issue is also related to the evolution of the social construction of risk. The contribution, by Juan Alberto Gran Castro and Silvia Lizzette Ramos de Robles examines the relationship between vulnerability and risk events with a focus on health risks due to climate change in a context of poverty and marginalization in an urban area in Mexico. The author presents several narratives in which inhabitants of a metropolitan area identify how changes in weather conditions have affected their individual health, family health, and community health and how this might affect future generations.

The fourth article by Sandy Medina-Valdivia et al. presents a participatory assessment of ecosystem services in a fishing community in Guerrero, Mexico. This contribution proposes a locally adapted participatory method and highlights the importance of considering the role of natural resources in processes that go beyond the socio-economic spheres of a community. It discusses the formation of socio-cultural values such as identity and cultural heritage.

Finally, the fifth contribution presented here by Pilivet Aguiar Alayola et al. builds a model of sustainability and quality of life assessment in tourist cities and implements it to study urban, environmental, financial, and tourist sustainability in Cancún, one of the most important tourist destinations in Mexico. The authors found a lack of sustainability in the procurement of some basic services to the population and a lack of attention to environmental issues, among others, leading to an overall low sustainability and quality of life.

We close this issue with a selection of photos that are part of the RISC-RISE Consortium's World Family Portrait. The first contributions by Mauricio P. Cervantes Salas depict the Mexico–Guatemala border. Part of a photographic exhibition organized by Instituto Mora and CentroGeo in 2019 in Mexico City, these images express the contrasting realities of both sides of the borders, from the natural landscape and the social and security scenario. The second contributions, presented by Carmen Maganda and Harlan Koff, illustrate life in the Costa Chica of Guerrero, Mexico.

We hope that this compendium of articles and photos inspires the ongoing reflections on how now, more than ever, the conversation of sustainability and resilience has to be continued and enriched by a dialogue between a diverse community of actors, which encourages cooperation and solidarity beyond borders and political systems.

Julia Ros-Cuéllar, Harlan Koff, Carmen Maganda, Edith Kauffer

References

  • García Acosta, V. (2018). Cohesión social y reducción de riesgos de desastre: otros conceptos a explorar. Regions and Cohesion 8(1), 107118. https://doi.org/10.3167/reco.2018.080106.

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  • Koff, H., & Maganda, C. (2021). Making the “new normal” the “new sustainable.” Regions and Cohesion 11(1), 13. https://doi:10.3167/reco.2021.110101.

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  • Nair, S., & Howlett, M. (2016). From robustness to resilience: avoiding policy traps in the long term. Sustain Science 11, 909917. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-016-0387-z.

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  • The Lancet, Commissioners of and collaborators with the International AIDS Society–Lancet Commission on Health and Human Rights. (2021). Human rights and fair access to COVID-19 vaccines: The International AIDS Society–Lancet Commission on Health and Human Rights. The Lancet. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(21)00708-X.

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  • World Health Organization, General Director. (2020). Opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19. Press release, March 11. https://www.who.int/director-general/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-the-media-briefing-on-covid-19-11-march-2020.

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Regions and Cohesion

Regiones y Cohesión / Régions et Cohésion

  • García Acosta, V. (2018). Cohesión social y reducción de riesgos de desastre: otros conceptos a explorar. Regions and Cohesion 8(1), 107118. https://doi.org/10.3167/reco.2018.080106.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Koff, H., & Maganda, C. (2021). Making the “new normal” the “new sustainable.” Regions and Cohesion 11(1), 13. https://doi:10.3167/reco.2021.110101.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Nair, S., & Howlett, M. (2016). From robustness to resilience: avoiding policy traps in the long term. Sustain Science 11, 909917. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-016-0387-z.

    • Crossref
    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • The Lancet, Commissioners of and collaborators with the International AIDS Society–Lancet Commission on Health and Human Rights. (2021). Human rights and fair access to COVID-19 vaccines: The International AIDS Society–Lancet Commission on Health and Human Rights. The Lancet. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(21)00708-X.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • World Health Organization, General Director. (2020). Opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19. Press release, March 11. https://www.who.int/director-general/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-the-media-briefing-on-covid-19-11-march-2020.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation

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