Systemic change

Transformation in the structure, dynamics and relationships of a system and/or system of systems.


1. In the context of the disaster resilience of infrastructure, systemic change implies tackling underlying causes to deliver tangible and enduring benefits that can have significant impacts on material conditions.

2. Systemic change differs from systematic change in several aspects:

    • Systemic changes describe what relates to or affects an entire system.
    • Systematic changes involve a method or plan, arranged within or comprising an ordered system.

Systematic changes are necessary to drive systemic change.

3. See also “Organizational learning”.


Reference for Note 1: Adapted from IDS (2014). Business and International Development: Is Systemic Change Part of the Business Approach?, Institute of Development Studies, Brighton, United Kingdom.



Amendment of building code for seismic resilience, New Zealand

The New Zealand Building Code has been frequently amended to reduce the impact of natural hazards. For example, after the 2011 Christchurch earthquake and the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake, the code was amended to improve the overall resilience of the built environment. Amendment and implementation of building codes can be a pathway to achieve resilience of building stock in a country. This new building code requires all new buildings to be constructed with increased seismic resistance and requires retrofitting of existing buildings to meet higher standards, which helps to reduce the impact of future earthquakes. The implementation of the code involves not only changes to building design and construction practices, but also to the regulatory framework, stakeholder engagement, and community education. This systemic change addresses the root causes of vulnerability to earthquakes.



  • Nwadike, A., & Wilkinson, S. (2020, January). Building code amendment process: a case study of New Zealand. In 9th International Conference on Building Resilience-ICBR, Bali, Indonesia.
  • Authority, B. I. (1992). The New Zealand Building Code Handbook. Standards New Zealand. (NZBC).