Resilience: Building Capacity to Respond, Adapt and Thrive Under Changing Conditions

Ramsey County will examine and adjust operations, service delivery and facilities to ensure that it is resilient to changing environmental, economic and social conditions. 

Why this is a priority

Ramsey County and its residents face increased physical, social, health and financial risks when challenged with environmental, economic and social change such as the recent Coronavirus pandemic and the death of Mr. George Floyd. During economic recessions, county services become financially constrained, again affecting vulnerable people and businesses. Emerging societal trends, such as political polarization or growing mistrust of institutions can affect delivery of services as well. The economy and society are becoming increasingly intertwined as today’s issues grow more complex. Ramsey County’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan defines resilience as “the capacity to respond, adapt and thrive under changing conditions” and identifies resilience as a priority. Ramsey County must leverage a strategic approach to use resilience as a tool to ensure it can withstand events that will shock or stress its systems. Events that disrupt the ability of the county to provide necessary services can impede progress in achieving the county’s vision, mission and goals. Building resilience through a process for anticipating, responding to and recovering from such events can be used by the county to prevent such downturns.

Building on previous work and lessons learned

Ramsey County is well prepared to respond at a community level to certain events, such as disasters, through its emergency planning. Internal resilience—in which departments are prepared for disruptive events—has not been as ready. The Comprehensive Plan’s chapter on resilience focuses on effects of a changing climate, but the COVID-19 pandemic shows that other events can be just as disruptive if we do not prepare or plan for them. By participating in the University of Minnesota’s Resilient Communities Project last year, and by learning from the county’s response to COVID-19, the county can learn about opportunities to grow more resilient. Resilience is a dynamic process of anticipation and preparation. Ramsey County will focus its efforts across service teams on strategies to assess risk, learn, adapt, expect and respond to disruptions.

Ensure racial equity and shared power with community is applied

Significant and persistent racial disparities exist among Ramsey County residents; residents of color make considerably less than their white neighbors. Vulnerability assessments demonstrate that access to housing, income, race and health are significant determinants in whether residents are more liable to be affected by disruptive events. Increasing the county’s resilience by strengthening internal capacity can help reduce that vulnerability ensuring that services and resources are available to support residents when they need it most. In developing its resilience strategy, Ramsey County will engage with community, especially those most vulnerable to disruption and displacement, to better understand the risks these communities face and how to design the most effective and equitable response and recovery processes