Community sustainability and resilience: similarities, differences and indicators

Alan A. Lew, Pin T. Ng, Chin cheng (Nickel) Ni, Tsung chiung (Emily) Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

147 Scopus citations


Sustainability has been a core conceptual framework for community development since the approach was popularized in 1987, although in its essence it reflects a long history of environmental conservation reactions to industrialization. Resilience, as a framework for understanding and approaching community development, emerged more gradually out of ecological studies in the 1980s, but has only recently, since the mid-2000s, emerged as a focus of public interest as a way of responding and adapting to the planet's growing anthropogenic changes. For many, sustainability and resilience are slightly nuanced perspectives on the same phenomenon. For others, however, there are distinct differences between them, with sustainability's conservation goals being in opposition to the adaptation goals of resilience. Two major reasons for these confusions are (1) both concepts are defined and used in many different ways to achieve a variety of political goals that may not reflect their core definitions, and (2) both concepts share similar goals and some common approaches, such as a focus on climate change and seeking a balance between humans and nature. Returning to the core definitions of conservation and adaptation helps to clarify their similarities and differences, as well as to articulate indicators for understanding how each applies to community tourism development. Indicators from research in rural Taiwan tourism communities were therefore based on responses to the questions: What does the community want to conserve and how do they want to do it (sustainability)? What do they want to change and how do they want to do it (resilience)? Preliminary results suggest that the new ideal community is the one that is both sustainable and resilient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-27
Number of pages10
JournalTourism Geographies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Resilience
  • Taiwan
  • community planning
  • resilience indicators
  • rural tourism
  • sustainability
  • sustainability indicators
  • tourism planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


Dive into the research topics of 'Community sustainability and resilience: similarities, differences and indicators'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this