STAR-TIDES is a global knowledge-sharing network that focuses on building sustainable resilience, promoting human security (freedom from want and freedom from fear), and creating life-changing social and economic activities. These roles have evolved from original support by the U.S. Defense Department’s TIDES (Transformative Innovation for Development and Emergency Support) program to four defense-related mission areas:
- Building Partner Capacity
- Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief
- Defense support of civil authorities
- Stability and Peace Keeping Operations
STAR-TIDES approaches work best when community-led, bottom-up projects are facilitated by high-level support and coordination. National level, public-private coordination can link local execution efforts to international knowledge and best practices. STAR-TIDES supports community-level efforts with knowledge from the several thousand members of the network. Specific projects are coordinated through George Mason University’s Center for Resilient and Sustainable Communities (C-RASC). A recurring problem is that outside organizations often offer solutions without understanding what a community needs, don’t learn much from interactions, with the community, and don’t build local capacity so the community can continue to grow after grants end or students graduate. By contrast, STAR-TIDES’s critical elements are LISTENING, LEARNING, and LASTING.
What Are Sustainable Futures?
A sustainable future is characterized by the responsible balancing of population and resources, effective actions to protect the environment, and measures to eliminate inequality. It is one where people can meet their needs without compromising the ability of people in the future to meet their own needs. It is about striking a balance between social, economic, requirements now and in the future with the earth’s resources. It is about eradicating both economic and energy poverty, ensuring social protections, and mitigating climate change are key elements of any sustainable future, and since technology develops in ways that can both enable and threaten these aims, these advancements will pose some of the greatest challenges to governance. These challenges can’t be addressed effectively without coordination.
STAR-TIDES includes terms like “sustainable,” “and community.” Sustainable has two aspects: (1) the challenge, i.e., “harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged;” and (2) the project, i.e., availability of support for sufficient duration to enable success, and existence of a viable exit strategy. Community means “people with common interests living in a particular area.” This may also include those with common interests and trust relationships who are scattered throughout a wider society, .g., a diaspora.
Across the world accelerating rates of technological and social change are putting businesses, governments, security structures, and social compacts under siege. Interconnected stresses and shocks challenge assumptions and best practices. Pressures for migration and marginalization are growing. People, organizations, indeed societies, will need integrated approaches absorb disruptions and adapt to “new normal.”
Resilience is the combination of “Coping Capacity” and Adaptability. The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) divides resilience into four phases: Anticipate, Withstand, Recover, and Adapt, of which the 1st three also could be described as “Coping Capacity.” In any case, the ability to adapt/reposition is critical, but it’s not enough to bounce back to a pre-disruption status quo. The goal should be to leverage the stresses and shocks to emerge stronger, as shown in the figure below. In sum, “Be prepared to bounce forward better.”