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Resilience refers to the ability of a socio-ecological system to withstand, respond to, and adapt to stresses and shocks. While most of us have an intuitive understanding of resilience, the term also has technical meanings. Resilience often is conceptualized and approached differently by the development, disaster relief, and ecological communities. There is a growing body of scientific literature and community of practice focused on resilience, yet there are surprisingly few quantitative, integrative, multi-scale and data-driven analyses to inform resilience thinking and, particularly, the design of interventions and investments to promote resilience.

In this context, we developed RESILIENCE ATLAS as an interactive analytical tool for building (1) understanding of the extent and severity of some of the key stressors and shocks that are affecting rural livelihoods, production systems, and ecosystems in the Sahel, Horn of Africa and South and Southeast Asia; and (2) insights into the ways that different types of wealth and assets (i.e., natural capital, human capital, social capital, financial capital and manufactured capital) – and combinations among these – impact resilience in particular contexts.

The RESILIENCE ATLAS database was created by integrating and analyzing more than 12 terabytes of data from over 60 of the best available datasets related to resilience, and summarizing the output in the form of easy to understand maps that can shift focus from regional to national and, where the availability and resolution of the data permit, to local scales. We hope the RESILIENCE ATLAS analytical tool and database provides new insights to help catalyze a revisioning of resilience and support for the growing community of practice around resilience.


The RESILIENCE ATLAS analytical tool is structured to enable users to explore assessments of “the resilience of what to what” (Carpenter et al. 2001), i.e., resilience of particular socio-ecological systems in particular places to which stressors and shocks (e.g., resilience of pastoral systems in Ethiopia to decreasing rainfall and changes in rainfall distribution). We then consider how different types of wealth and assets promote or diminish the resilience of systems to specific stressors and shocks. To follow this framework, we suggest a 3-step approach to gain insights when using RESILIENCE ATLAS.

  • Decide what geography and theme are of interest: within a particular geography, which livelihood, production system, or ecosystem is of interest and what how is it distributed?

  • Examine exposure of the system of interest to stressors and shocks: what are the different types of stressors, how chronic are they and which acute shocks affect these systems? What is the extent of exposure and the magnitude of the stress or shock?

  • Consider vulnerability: how do different types of wealth and assets, i.e., natural capital, human capital, social capital, financial capital and manufactured capital, increase or decrease the resilience of the system to these stressors and shocks?

The journeys provide a curated pathway to explore some of the different data layers to gain new insights into the resilience of particular systems and places. The journeys demonstrate how to use the RESILIENCE ATLAS analytical tool and database to arrive at insights, and hopefully will stimulate you to explore the data further.

Take a look through the data map, don’t be overwhelmed, and start creating your own journeys and generating your own insights.

The team

Sandy Andelman

Sandy Andelman is Chief Scientist and Senior Vice President at Conservation International, providing science vision, strategy and thought leadership to guide CI's work. She also is founding Executive Director of Vital Signs, a monitoring system that fills a critical unmet need for integrative, diagnostic data and indicators on agriculture, ecosystem services and human well-being.

Sheila Brown

Sheila Brown is GIS coordinator at Conservation International. Sheila holds a Master of Environmental Management from the University of New South Wales and a Graduate Certificate in Geographic Information Sciences from the University of Southern California. Sheila assisted in the development of the journeys in RESILIENCE ATLAS, and gathered and analyzed multiple datasets used in RESILIENCE ATLAS.

Kellee Koenig

Kellee Koenig is the GIS Manager and Cartographer at Conservation International. Her role at CI focuses on the cartographic production of high-level map products, GIS strategy and capacity building, cartographic training and support, and spatial data management. Kellee has produced over 1,000 maps to date, which are used for scientific publications, communications materials, presentations, and proposals. Her work has been selected for inclusion in five Esri Map Books, and she is a two-time winner of a Cartographic Special Interest Group award at the Esri International Users Conference.

Monica Noon

Monica Noon is Geographic Information Science (GIS) Manager at Conservation International. Prior to joining Conservation International in 2016, Monica worked with the National Audubon Society as an Enterprise GIS Intern, and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Linking Income, Food and the Environment (LIFE) program in northern Zambia where she worked with rural communities to build capacity in sustainable agriculture, forestry and food security. Monica holds an MS in GIS for Development and Environment from Clark University where she was awarded the Career Development Grant from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), and a BS in Environmental Science from The Ohio State University. She has an interest in protecting wildlife in Africa while fostering local capacity to sustain healthy and prosperous livelihoods.

Tim Noviello

Tim Noviello is Director of Marketing and Communications for the Betty and Gordon Moore Center for Science and Oceans at Conservation International. With over ten years of experience in the field, Tim provides strategic guidance and input on how to communicate science and structure decision support tools.

Shyla Raghav

Shyla Raghav leads CI’s climate policy team to build and support the development and implementation of sound regional, national and international science-based climate change policies. Shyla and her interdisciplinary global team engage with key partners to amplify CI's successful climate change strategies, which demonstrate that ecosystem-based mitigation and adaptation offer tremendous opportunities for meeting the climate challenge. Having attended nearly a decade of United Nations climate change negotiations at the international level, she works closely with governments to inform their positions and policies on finance and climate change adaptation. Shyla holds a master’s in environmental management from Yale University and a B.A. and B.S. from the University of California, Irvine.

Alex Zvoleff

Alex Zvoleff is Director of Data Science for Vital Signs at Conservation International. Alex leads the development of new methods and tools to integrate large interdisciplinary datasets to enhance access to the best available information on ecosystem management and human-wellbeing. With expertise in statistical modeling and remote sensing, Alex has worked on a range of topics exploring the interactions between climate, ecosystems, and human well-being. Alex received a Ph.D. in geography in a joint program at San Diego State University and the University of California, Santa Barbara, and holds a master’s from Columbia University.

Site design


Data policy

Unless indicated otherwise on this Website, the materials contained on this Website, including the RESILIENCE ATLAS trademark, are the property of CI, its licensors and collaborating organizations and are protected by U.S. and international copyright, trademark and other intellectual property laws.

For Terms of Use, please see http://www.conservation.org/Pages/terms.aspx

Data sets owned/made available by the following organizations and individuals under separate terms as indicated in their respective metadata: Dartmouth Flood Observatory, Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), Eastern Africa Grain Council, Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency, European Space Agency, Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS-NET), ICF International, Institute for Economics and Peace, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), MapSpaM, NASA Earth Exchange (NEX), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, United Nations Environment Programme, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Université catholique de Louvain, William Cheung, World Bank, WorldPop, Yukiko Hirabayashi.

Source information for each dataset in RESILIENCE ATLAS is available via the metadata link that accompanies each layer on the main map page.

CI acknowledges the contributions of the creators/owners of the following open source software components: CartoDB (BSD license), the Geospatial Data Abstraction Library (X11/​MIT License), and the R Statistical Computing Environment (GNU General Public License). CI acknowledges the contributions of the creators/owners of the following R packages: raster, rgdal, sp, gdalUtils, spatial.tools, foreach, doParallel, rgeos, ggplot2, reshape2, stringr, dplyr, RJSONIO, lme4, and rstan.


Resilience: The ability to withstand, respond and adapt both in advance and in response to stresses and shocks

Exposure: The extent of contact with a stressor or shock

Stressor: A physical (e.g., climate), biological (e.g., a disease), social (e.g., conflict) or financial (e.g., market fluctuation) pressure or perturbation that causes a disturbance to a socio-ecological system. Stressors may affect the structure, function and/or controls in a system. They may be discrete or continuous, as well as cumulative.

Shock: A sudden stressful event (e.g., a tsunami).

Vulnerability: The degree to which a geophysical or socio-ecological system is susceptible to harm, has the capacity to adapt to or is unable to cope with the impacts of stressors and shocks (McCarthy et al. 2001; Adger 2006).


Adger, W. Neil. “Vulnerability.” Global Environmental Change 16, no. 3 (August 2006): 268–81.

McCarthy, James J. Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability: Contribution of Working Group II to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Carpenter, Steve, Brian Walker, J. Marty Anderies, and Nick Abel. “From Metaphor to Measurement: Resilience of What to What?” Ecosystems 4, no. 8 (2001): 765–81.