The Six Resiliency Sectors

As previously noted, resiliency planning is a way to reduce indirect vulnerabilities by improving the long-term conditions that can leave communities exposed to hazards. As part of its Resiliency Framework, the State of Colorado has identified six core sectors around which communities can plan for resiliency. These are:

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  • Community;

  • Economic;

  • Health and Social;

  • Housing;

  • Infrastructure; and

  • Watersheds and Natural Resources.

These six sectors are broad lenses through which a community can examine the impacts from shocks, identify stresses that can lead to shocks or weaken their ability to respond to shocks, and strategically plan to address these. 

Though each sector addresses a specific set of goals and strategies to address shocks and stresses, integration of activities across sectors is key developing a resilient community. These sectors are interdependent, and many strategies are likely to have a cross-sector impact. For example, housing and infrastructure are closely linked. If housing and land use policies are aligned with infrastructure investments, homes and neighborhoods can be adequately served by infrastructure (e.g. utilities, broadband, transportation, etc.).

This integrated planning can also help reduce costs that each sector must bear. Another example is the interdependency between the Community, Watersheds and Natural Resources, Infrastructure, and Housing sectors. The four sectors can work together to locate housing outside of floodplains by aligning land use, floodplain, and housing policies to encourage development outside of floodplains tied to future infrastructure development and housing needs.


Why Should Communities Care About Resiliency?

As previously explored, past and potential future natural disasters, significant population growth, changing climate conditions, and the desire to preserve Colorado’s high quality of life present communities throughout Colorado with challenges that will require them adapt to remain healthy, vibrant, and strong. Colorado faces a wide-variety of threats in the forms of shocks and stresses; these shocks can abruptly and unexpectedly impact a community, and may be exacerbated by underlying stress conditions, such as a dam failure leading to flooding in a town’s commercial sector that permanently closes businesses, leading to job loss and decreased local economic activity.

A resilient community is not only prepared for natural and economic shocks, but examines its social, economic, and natural conditions and takes action to minimize vulnerabilities in these areas. Resilient communities, as a result, are safer, healthier, and able to adapt to ever-changing conditions.

Each community in Colorado will need to define what resiliency means to them, based on their own existing conditions, vulnerabilities, needs, and goals and aspirations. What is valuable to protect and critical to address for one community may not align with those for another. However, resilient communities all have the common goal of being able to adapt and thrive as a community.


How each community gets there will vary, but as BoCo Strong points out, identifying and community stressors, utilizing community assets and resources to address stressors, and applying lessons learned from past disaster to prepare for and adapt to future conditions will better prepare the community to bounce back after a shock event and ultimately thrive.

Addressing resiliency now will also help communities align with the direction the federal government is moving regarding disaster assistance. Federal policy is shifting towards the need for more state and local pre-disaster action, so by taking action today before a shock event occurs, communities will be better off to receive federal funding and assistance when an event occurs.

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What Does a Resilient Colorado Look Like in Five Years?

Colorado Resiliency Framework Indicators of Success:
Model Projects are built and replicated by others;
Resiliency is incorporated into local plans and resiliency officers are staff positions within local government;
Long-term local and state budgets incorporate resiliency investments;
The Colorado Resiliency Partnership Fund is established and financing resiliency projects;
Neighborhoods and networks utilize resiliency practices;
Regional economic blueprints include a hazard and vulnerability assessment;
Risk and vulnerability mapping, community inclusion mapping, and model land use codes are adopted and utilized by communities;
Transportation and watersheds plan and design together, and repair jointly;
Design and implementation of natural and built systems is integrated;
Impacted residents and business are able to continue to live and operate in their communities after a disaster event;
Colorado is a national model for statewide resiliency.

Increasing resiliency is not going to happen overnight. It is a long-term process that requires coordinated strategic efforts between local, state, and federal government; non-profit organizations; the private sector; community groups; and individuals. Though resiliency is a long-term commitment, there are a number of activities that communities can undertake now that will begin to immediately address shocks and stresses, and set Colorado on the path towards a resilient future.

While each community will need to decide what policies and programs best address their vulnerabilities, through the Colorado Resiliency Framework the State has identified several indicators to measure what success will look like in five years (see table to the right).

The State cannot achieve these goals alone; coordinated efforts between State agencies, local governments, community partners, and the private sector will be key to ensuring that communities throughout Colorado are more resilient in the face of varying shocks and underlying stresses.