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  • Open access
  • 78 Reads
The Value of Collective and Individual Assets in Building Urban Community Resilience

Bangkok, Thailand’s capital, has experienced disruptive flood events and remains vulnerable to sea level rise and subsidence. Those living in low-income communities are often most exposed to climate risk, living along canals, in housing and with infrastructure that is not adapted to climate change. Ensuring that Thai cities plan for resilient and inclusive growth is therefore important for achieving a sustainable urban future. Urban resilience here encompasses not only physical resilience to climate change impacts and other shocks, but also socioeconomic resilience, such that vulnerable population groups are not left behind.

This paper aims to foster inclusive urban governance which integrates communities’ well-being along with considerations of physical environment – including systems of land use, water and solid waste management. The findings highlight how low-income communities prepare for a potential shock for example flooding, drought or an economic crisis. Which individual and collective assets– internal and external – are at risk, and which can be used to overcome those risks? Do residents apply mechanisms of coping, adapting, or something new, and is collective action applied? The data draws from a household survey and interviews across three communities, and an innovative resilience toolkit developed in order to foster community dialogue around what is required to achieve community-based resilience strategies. Known as ‘Kin dee you dee’ (live well, eat well), the interactive community-level toolkit focuses on 7 types of assets used by community residents and their potential for building resilience: water, food, shelter and people, economic resources, community assets, and new resources made from old.

Our findings highlight different approaches to achieving inclusive planning approaches which support climate resilient and sustainable development pathways at community and city scale - including the potential offered by multisectoral, multiactor responses drawing on private, public and civil society actors and assets.

(This paper is part of the research supported by the funding from the UK Government’s Newton Fund, the collaborative PEACE-BMR project of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and the Urban Futures Research Unit of the Faculty of Architecture and Planning at Thammasat University in Bangkok)

  • Open access
  • 16 Reads
Resignification of degraded public spaces in Guanajuato and in Bordeaux: citizen reapropriation in the frame of intensive workshops developed by the University of Guanajuato (UG) and the superior national school of architecture and landscape of Bordeaux (ensapBx)

The intensive workshops Bordeaux - Guanajuato have been developed since 2015 by mixed teams of students of ensapBx and the architecture, art and design division of the UG.
Beyond the interest of constituting a cross-cultural project experience for students from different continents, these workshops involve diverse actors concerned in issues of the citizen's agenda since they are articulated with the existing international cooperation agreement between the local governments to which belong the two universities.
These workshops, two per year, take place alternately in the State of Guanajuato and in the metropolis of Bordeaux, working on different types of obsolete spaces.
This is the case of the public spaces of intermediate cities currently not recognized by the population as spaces of the community, despite being part of their built heritage, or of the natural spaces located in the heart of small cities practically ignored by the population whose recent developments turn their backs on them.

In these workshops the urban project is conceived not only as a large-scale design action but as a trigger to contribute to the change of the perception that the inhabitants have about their public spaces in disuse and contribute to a resignification and appropriation of them as elements of identity and reinforcement of community ties.

The concept of resilience appears here as the capacity that an obsolete territory offers to generate strong social bonds thanks to a joint action of spatial conception that associates universities, institutional actors and inhabitants.

  • Open access
  • 31 Reads
Guayaquil: critical analysis of its approaches towards urban resilience.

Guayaquil, the most populated city of Ecuador, evidences the urban dynamics that have determined the urban development of the region. In its fragmented urban landscape, inequalities, social fragmentation and environmental degradation configure simultaneously formal and informal territories of self-exclusion, spatial segregation and ecological risk. In the context of these socio-environmental vulnerabilities, it becomes necessary to position urban design practices in relation to socio ecological resilience frameworks to develop guidelines for spatial intervention.

At a global scale, discourses dealing with urban vulnerabilities have positioned urban resilience as a desirable goal and a strategic topic for governments and planners, often focusing the implementation of top down approaches aiming to cope with the impacts of climate change and natural disasters. Leaving aside the socio-spatial dimension of the urban environments and a wide range of other vulnerabilities, plans and policies have not completely incorporated the complexity of the interplay of natural, human and spatial systems. Furthermore, only few of them have explicitly made reference to urban design, operative at the intermediate scale.

Similarly, in Guayaquil, emerging concerns about the consequences of climate change have led to the development of adaptation and resilience-based strategies focusing on risk mitigation measures. The aim of this paper is to present a critical review of the approaches on the formulation of these strategies and programs. Through the review of urban resilience definitions and urban design literature in relation to resilience principles, the analysis assesses the conceptual and normative aspects behind the institutional responses for areas in the vulnerable urban edges of the city and also presents the challenges and opportunities to operationalize urban resilience through urban design.

  • Open access
  • 34 Reads
Informal Economy in the Fragile City as a Driver of Social Resilience. Lessons for the disaster risk reduction. Focus on informal workers in the public space of Bogota, Colombia.

The informal economy accounts for more than 50% of the non-rural working population in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and South and East Asia. Being the informal workers of the public space, the most affected not only by being constantly exposed to the environment but also to the social conditions of a hostile society that perceives this practice as negative and illegal, it is often disregarded their great capacity to anticipate, absorb and adapt and therefore, their high level of social resilience. Understanding the adaptation and survival mechanisms of the informal workers could help drawing lessons for the field of disaster risk management more specifically on how this is related with the production of social resilience. Social resilience has attracted great attention from researchers of various disciplines, focusing mostly on the creation of methodologies for assessment and implementation at the city and regional level. There is, however, a growing need to find appropriate strategies to produce social resilience in communities, especially the most vulnerable ones. By analysing selected literature, we identified twelve attributes clustered in six sub-dimensions of Social Resilience, mutually transferable between the field of Informal Economy and Disaster Risk Management. Then, we evaluated their presence in daily activities of informal workers of the public space in the city of Bogota, Colombia. We recognized 10 out of the 12 attributes (excluding Social Demography and Fair Access to Basic Needs and Services) in the observations and semi-structured interviews performed. According to our analysis and informal workers answers, a set of recommendations is proposed to enhance social resilience to disasters at the community level. We further identified conditions of corruption, conflict, displacement and inequality, placing this research within the spectrum of Fragile Cities. Our results are a call for science and practice to reframe resilience not as a repeatable equation but as a context-based dynamic.

  • Open access
  • 31 Reads
Tianjin Future Science City: A Chinese Flexible Planning Experience for Industry New Town

During the past three decades, the development of high-tech districts and economic-development areas became one of the main pillars that support the radical social and economic growth in Chinese Cities. with a planning agenda that pursues fast completion of construction, these towns contain unitary land use and inadequate considerations of urban uncertainty in the future development. Nowadays, as China became the second largest advanced and emerging economies in the world, well-planned and smart urban growth replaced the intensive urban expansion. Therefore, utilizing resilience to confront uncertainty in future development has become an important task in modern planning.

The planning provision of Tianjin Future Science City regularized the project’s overall framework and designed un-identical development disciplines for individual grids at the site to exploit elastic space that embraces uncertainty. The design scheme provides the urban infrastructure with a large-scale grid of 1kmX1km, which provides a basic development framework and accommodates usage changes within the grid. Variable development contents are allowed in each grid as long as they respect the fundamental planning guidelines. Similar to Lego, the grids are diverse but connectable elements that could be combined and transformed by planners to conduct variable development contents. However, it is true that such development methodology requires careful and dynamic maintenances, as well as deep integration with planning administrations.

From the practical point of view, the construction and operation of Tianjin Future Science City are generally considered successful. In conclusion, the thesis indicates the practical experience of Tianjin Future Science City and explaining the significance of resilience planning in assisting planners to increase land use efficiency and intensity. It is believed the experience also demonstrates resilience planning’s advantages in responding to market demands, and by no means evidenced the feasibility of elastic design method.

  • Open access
  • 19 Reads
[Eco]systems of resilience practices: a reframing from the Experience of Italian Resilience Practices Observatory

Over time, an increasing number of institutions, both public and private bodies, are investing in resilience of communities and territories, supporting local based practices and actions. Launched in April 2015 and promoted by a partnerships between Academic institutions (Politecnico di Milano as coordinator) and the REsilienceLAB association and funded by Fondazione Cariplo (Italian bank foundation), the Resilience Practices Observatory (RPO) takes as its overall strategic objective the enhancement of territorial resilience through the strengthening of resilience practices. This mainly by a integrated and incremental assets of activities including: collection and interpretation of practices; coproduction/co-desing activities, reframing activities for innovation in methods, tools and design criteria; capacity building and dissemination activities from a cultural and methodological perspective.

Inside the RPO activities, a specific working space has been devoted to three crosscutting issues (governance, knowledge co-production and economy) that are crucial in enhancing the feasibility and the stabilization of resilience practices and in contributing to social and territorial resilience in the long-run.

The essay first offers a brief introduction to the RPO working experience (engaging more than 100 practices), which, in these three years, based on a strong interdisciplinary and collaborative approach, proved to be successful and able to highlight strengths and weaknesses of the resilience implementation from the operational perspective and to envisage innovative tools to be applied in a new generation of multipurpose projects.

Then, a specific focus on the three crosscutting issues will be introduced, highlighting main conceptual reframings and toolboxes developed. In the final part of the essay, reframing frameworks, methodological and operational factors will hence be discussed (in particular on the concept of ecosystems of resilience practices), in order to highlight emerging trajectories for the improvement of resilience practices and policies to guarantee systemic and synergic benefits in resilience capabilities enhancement of complex territorial systems.

  • Open access
  • 74 Reads
Influence of grassroots initiatives on forming urban resilience within communities

Grassroots initiatives are nowadays gaining importance as defenders of widely-understood aspects of humanity and leading critics of neoliberal, nationalist or austerity policies. This paper reviews and examines the impacts of grassroots initiatives – more specifically solidarity movements – on forming urban resilience within urban communities in Germany and Greece.

Therefore, the paper addresses the following questions:

  1. What role do initiatives play in the political-administrative system and what influence do they have?
  2. What contribution can initiatives make through their commitment to the resilience of a city?
  3. How and to what extent do the undertaken activities contribute to strengthening urban and in particular community resilience?

By combining literature research, field studies and qualitative interviews with representatives from solidarity movements, politicians and public actors in the field of urban development in selected German and Greek cities are conducted. It aims to analyse the influence of urban communities and grassroots initiatives on urban resilience.

Based on a comparative research approach, the paper shows that initiatives in German cities tend to criticise socio-political grievances whereas initiatives in Greece are inclined to an active struggle to reduce the occurrence of socio-economic and political difficulties. The actions of German initiatives have risen significantly in the last years and are mainly reflected in severe criticism of political ventures, a fight for human equality, as well as in inclusion of the vulnerable society. Conversely, the Greek solidarity movements aim to diminish post-crisis austerity symptoms and combat the ubiquitous non-respect of the human rights of Greek citizens by politicians.

  • Open access
  • 30 Reads

Credibility is a critical issue in climate policy for helping to allocate public funding and private investments, and for implementing, mainstreaming and catalysing climate policy. In the context of urban climate adaptation policy, we define credibility as the likelihood of local adaptation plans being successfully implemented and sustained in the long-term. We examine the credibility of local adaptation policies based on three key areas: policy and economic credibility, scientific credibility and legitimacy. Within these three areas, we look at resources, reliability, public and private support, creation of usable knowledge, monitoring, evaluation & reporting (MER), adaptive management, transparency, participation, equity and justice. For each of these components, we define a set of metrics and test it in 20 Spanish cities, a representative sample to capture diversity of a highly decentralised country. Systematic review protocols have been applied to identify adaptation policies and measures. We do not limit to stand-alone climate plans but also to adaptation measures mainstreamed in other urban policies, when the formers are lacking. We analyse and discuss the results in terms of gaps and opportunities for future local adaptation policies. We finalise by discussing the adequacy of these metrics in the context of adaptation decision-making and for assessing the odds of building climate resilience.

  • Open access
  • 47 Reads
Urban resilience in Spanish legislative and regulatory framework

Nowadays, urban resilience is a broadly mentioned concept, both in scientific literature and in official documents regarding the challenges of current society. This concept will be key for the future of urban areas. However, to implement consistent and integrated policies using resilience, an inclusive perspective of the concept needs to be embedded in the regulatory framework. Therefore, the aim of this research is assessing to which extend the transposition of the concept includes an integrated approach in Spanish legal framework.

This research undertook the following analyses:

  • Identifying the reference framework documents within Spanish, European and international documents related to sustainable urban development where “urban resilience” or “resilient cities” are mentioned as core concepts.
  • Conducting a systematic data collection of the Spanish legal framework looking for texts which explicitly mention either “resilience”, “resilient(s)” or any of the reference framework documents.
  • Identifying the importance given to resilience in the legal framework, evaluating how deeply resilience is considered and assessing its use as a tool to integrate different sustainable policies.

As the results show, resilience is mostly used to address climate change and natural hazards without including references to other aspects and, when doing so, it does it in a fragmentary manner. The documents analyzed consider neither a formal definition nor the possible negative trade-offs and fail to fully integrate all the aspects of resilience as a strategy for sustainable development. The final considerations provide a few guidelines to policy decision-makers, such as including an official definition of the concept, providing funds for plans and programs which include resilience as a core strategy and implement resilience policies throughout an interdisciplinary approach that include the analysis of the consequences. This research could have the potential to be transferred to other international contexts.

  • Open access
  • 52 Reads
Pro-Resilience Governance and (in)Accessibility to Services of General Interest: evidence from the Portuguese Center region after 2017 wildfires crisis

The public services network determines the existence, structure, quality, and transformability of the territories. That is, network services create conditions to community’s resilience. Any node in the settlement structure increases or strengthens its livability and attractiveness through the accessibility to essential (guarantee the minimum of living conditions) and qualified (stimulate progress opportunities) services.

The growing need of assessing efficiency in the management of public service systems led European policies to (partial or totally) integrate that concern into competitive markets. In this context, Services of General Interest (SeIG) play a central role as the main instrument towards the implementation of the European social model. Through the SeIG, public entities can mitigate the risks of the market failures, avoiding situations where the communities’ resilience capacity could collapse.

In Portugal, the contrasts between metropolitan, urban (mid-sized cities) and rural regions are associated with different levels of accessibility to SeIG and with the resulting cohesion patterns. Along the post-disaster catastrophe of the wildfires in 2017, part of the SeIG systems in the rural areas of the Portuguese Center Region (civil protection, water, electricity, telecommunications, radio and television, housing, road network, transport, health), collapsed or were subjected to high levels of stress.

This article is organized around the following objectives: i) to reorganize the resilience theoretical framework in order to incorporate the importance of the SeIG to minimize the vulnerability of the dispersed settlement structures with low densities (connectivity and accessibility); and ii) to apply this theoretical framework within a concrete situation of crisis/catastrophe. In the second phase, using content analysis methodologies, we will analyze the news stream about this disruptive phenomenon to evaluate, iii) the performance of the governance system managing the SeIG networks and, vi) how this contributed, or not, to increase the resilience (persistence, adaptability, transformability) of this territories.