Embracing Change: The Critical Role of Information, a research project by the Internews' Center for Innovation & Learning, supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, combines Internews' longstanding effort to highlight the important role of information with Rockefeller's groundbreaking work on resilience. The project focuses on three major aspects:
- Building knowledge around the role of information in empowering communities to understand and adapt to different types of change: slow onset, long-term, and rapid onset / disruptive;
- Identifying strategies and techniques for strengthening information ecosystems to support behavioral adaptation to disruptive change; and
- Disseminating knowledge and principles to individuals, communities, the private sector, policymakers, and other partners so that they can incorporate healthy information ecosystems as a core element of their social resilience strategies.
“Why Information Matters: A Foundation For Resilience” represents the first step towards these aims. Drawing on theoretical literature, case studies, and primary field research, this report:
1. Defines “information ecosystems” and proposes an analytic framework of eight critical dimensions for understanding them, drawing upon the Center’s extensive literature review completed in April 2014 and reflecting Internews’ three decades of field experience;
2. Analyzes information ecosystems across a spectrum of change and their impact on resilience, referencing four case studies of Internews’ previous work;
3. Shares insights from the Jakarta Information Ecosystems pilot, which investigated the relevance of information ecosystems to communities living in chronically flood-prone environments; and
4. Reveals the utility of an information ecosystems approach and highlights preliminary conclusions on why information matters for resilience.
This analysis provides consistent evidence that healthy information ecosystems promote resilience, while weak information ecosystems seriously hinder preparedness, response, and recovery from shocks and stressors; underscores that healthy information ecosystems are a vital component of ensuring that resilience strategies engage all individuals and communities within a city or system; and surfaces critical areas of further investigation in the second phase of the Embracing Change project, the New York InfoEco Pilot study.
“Why Information Matters” is designed principally for policymakers, practitioners, and communities concerned with strengthening resilience strategies and practices.The paper is not meant to be academic nor fully capture the rigor of the research; it is meant to enable informed action.