Natural Hazards

, Volume 60, Issue 3, pp 1267–1285 | Cite as

Vulnerability management by means of resilience

  • Kalliopi Sapountzaki
Original Paper


The article decodes and analyzes the standard functions of social and social-ecological systems when they manage their own vulnerability. The author acknowledges these as “Resilience functions” or “Operational Resilience”. For this purpose, she follows a “Vulnerability Actor” (V Actor)-based approach. V Actor is considered as a system faced with multiple hazards, carrying various vulnerability facets (physical, economic, institutional, etc.) and attempting to transform, transfer, rearrange them in time and space so as to achieve Actor’s own persistence. It is these processes of vulnerability re-arrangement that are identified by the author as Resilience functions and which change the vulnerability not only of the V Actor performing resilience but also others’. Performance of Resilience functions presupposes attraction and employment of resources by the Actor, not only own, current and inherent but also other resources to be found in spatial and temporal scales external to or beyond the Actor but which the Actor can appeal to. This attraction most probably leads to deprivation of others of the necessary resources for their persistence, recovery, etc. When somebody’ vulnerability is reduced sometimes somewhere, it is most probable that others elsewhere are encumbered with extra vulnerability, currently or in the future. Hence, what resilience can only do is vulnerability re-arrangement, re-setting and management. The proposed systemic approach is documented on current state of art regarding interactions between vulnerability and resilience to hazards and on empirical evidence from the international experience of responses to natural hazards.


Vulnerability to hazards Resilience Spatio-temporal change of vulnerability Vulnerability management Sustainability of socio-ecological systems Multi-hazard vulnerability assessment 



The work that is presented below is based on the work done and material produced in the framework of the European project “Enhancing Resilience of Communities and Territories Facing Natural and Na-tech Hazards” (ENSURE—Grant Agreement Number 212045). The project is financed by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development, Area “Environment”, Activity 6.1 “Climate Change, Pollution and Risks”. This support is gratefully acknowledged. The beneficiaries (and contributing partners) of ENSURE project are: (1) BRGM, France, (2) University of Naples, Italy, (3) International Institute for Geo-information Science and Earth Observation, Netherlands, (4) University of Geneva, Switzerland, (5) Harokopio University of Athens, Greece, (6) Tel Aviv University, Israel, (7) Middlesex University United Kingdom, (8) T6 Ecosystems srl, Italy, (9) Politecnico di Milano, Italy, (10) Potsdam Institut fuer Klimafolgenforschung, Germany. Further information about the project can be found at


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Harokopion UniversityAthensGreece

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