Over the past decade, the concept of resilience has gained momentum in climate change and disaster research. Although the relevance of resilience in dealing with environmental changes has been acknowledged by these communities, an impasse in research occurs when trying to extract the crux of resilience and transform it into an implementable entity in vulnerability assessments and information systems. This debacle is attributed to the multiplicity of definitions across Ecology, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Sustainability Science, which obscures the meaning of the concept and prevents its operationalization. In order to forge ahead with concerted efforts to manage climate induced changes unto societies, the ambiguities contained within resilience must be addressed. To tackle the miscommunication that follows the concept, this dissertation posits a formal theory of resilience. Drawing on the idea of semantic reference systems, ontology engineering principles are utilized to construct the formal theory. In this sense, a resilience ontology provides a semantic reference frame for the concept. Through the ontology, key terms, which fall under the purview of resilience are defined. Moreover, the relationships between terms are formally made explicit and the linkage between resilience and the process of adaptation is made clear. Overall, the ontology constrains the interpretation of resilience thereby quelling the ambiguities that permeate the concept. This formal theory of resilience marks the initial steps towards its operationalization.