Designing a resilience assessment in East Las Vegas

Lucía Cortez, a trained biologist from Venezuela, has a long-standing passion for sustainable development. She brings together  her field and management experience to coordinate sustainable development projects that engage stakeholders and encourage sustainable agriculture.

In an effort to raise awareness about environment protection in her community in Las Vegas, United States, Lucia developed a resilience assessment using the tools she acquired during the Massive Open Online Course “Understanding Resilience Thinking: Introduction to Resilience for Development”, hosted in October 2017 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with SwedBio at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Pronatura, ECOSUR, NBSAP Forum and The Nature Conservancy.

The MOOC taught me the basic conceptualization and tools on resilience thinking and how to design a resilience assessment. 

Lucia wrote a conceptual proposal aiming to understand the factors that cause pollution in her region. The framework of her proposal consisted of five phases: description of the social-ecological system (in this case an urban area of East Las Vegas affected by pollution), analysis of system dynamics, design of interventions, design of the intervention implementation process, and implementation and learning.

In such a way, in accordance with the typical resilience assessment framework, Lucia’s resilience assessment started with a two-part scoping method that explored the characteristics of the system and established the target community. Based on this scoping process, Lucia identified all the relevant stakeholders and narrowed down the target population to the residents of East Las Vegas. During these first two steps of the resilience assessment Lucia was able to connect with key stakeholders by attending meetings with representatives from the local government, the private sector, and the community. Having concluded the preparation phase, Lucia transitioned to the third stage of the assessment. She identified positive intervention points and mapped disturbance and shocks in the target location. She also established a connection with the initiatives promoting environmental education in Las Vegas and Southern Nevada in order to secure their support of her resilience assessment work.

Finally, having collected and analyzed the data in steps four and five of the assessment, Lucia proposed a public campaign to engage community groups in the implementation of a learn-by-doing plan that raises awareness among community residents about the types of household waste, recycling and conservation. To further promote her campaign, Lucia plans to submit her proposal for consideration by Nevada Division of Environmental Protection’s (NDEP) Recycling Grant Program.

Video created by Lucia Cortez for her resilience project during the Introduction to Resilience MOOC

“The main achievement of this project is the engagement between the actors and their recognition of pollution as an issue in Las Vegas, as well as exploring resilience thinking as a potential field for community initiatives that improves quality of life and environmental protection.”

If you are interested in gaining the tools to use resilience assessments to address pressing conservation and development challenges in your region, enroll in the self-paced course “Understanding Resilience Thinking” which sparked Lucia’s project. You will learn about the key steps for conducting resilience assessments, how to develop resilience assessments using existing frameworks, and how to use these results to develop effective sustainable development and conservation actions.

We look forward to learning with you!

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