Resilience

Cities need to begin exploring effective strategies for developing greater capacities for resilience to the future impacts of both Climate Change and Energy Scarcity.


We have chosen the word “resilience” as an umbrella term for the planning and design strategies needed in order to help our cities develop the necessary capacity to meet the challenges of the future.

Over the coming decades, the need to build capacity for greater resilience will require our cities to develop strategies for coping with the future shocks and stresses to our urban infrastructure systems associated with climate change. Our cites will also have to find ways to significantly reduce their dependence on oil and other fossil fuels - to find ways to become more self-sufficient and energy efficient in the face the economic realities of energy transition associated with energy scarcity (often now refered to as "peak oil").  We think that effective urban planning and building design could play an important role in facilitating the development of a greater capacity for future resilience.

In its common usage, the word "resilience" is typically understood to describe a material’s ability to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed. The term "resilience" the way we are using it has its origins in the science of ecology. In ecology, resilience has been described as the capacity of an ecosystem to tolerate disturbance without collapsing into a qualitatively different state. Thus, a resilient ecosystem is considered to be one that can more effectively withstand external shocks and rebuild itself after experiencing those shocks.

Resilience in human social systems understands there to be the added capacity of humans to be able to some extent anticipate and plan for the future. Resilience is conferred in both human and ecological systems by their capacities for adaptation to these external stresses and shocks. In the column to the right are definitions of resilience that have helped us in shaping the development of our resilient planning and design ideas and principles for resilient cities put forward at ResilientCity.org. As a working definition we put forward the following:

“A Resilient City is one that has developed capacities to help absorb future shocks and stresses to its social, economic, and technical systems and infrastructures so as to still be able to maintain essentially the same functions, structures, systems, and identity.”

To increase their capacities for resilience, we believe that cities will need to adopt urban planning and building design strategies that allow them to increase their abilities to better respond and adapt to the economic, social, and physical stresses they will face as they confront the challenges of increasing energy scarcity, climate change, and population change.

Developing the capacity for greater resilience will involve cities in a complex web of economic, planning, design and development decisions, that in combination, must be designed to transform our current highly energy-intensive urban economic systems into much less energy-intensive and much less carbon-intensive ones. Our planning and design professions will be hugely challenged to find new paradigms, new technologies, new public services, new economic models -- and more -- in order to plan for and then implement the strategies that will in combination adequately increase the resilience capacities of our cities.


10 Strategies for Increasing the Capacity for Resilience

We have produced a quick overview of 10 important Strategies for increasing the capacity of resilience in cities. To see these go to >>> 10 Resilience Strategies

Definitions of "Resilience"

“1. Resilience is the property of a material to absorb energy when it is deformed elastically and then, upon unloading to have this energy recovered. In other words, it is the maximum energy per unit volume that can be elastically stored. It is represented by the area under the curve in the elastic region in the stress-strain curve."

Source: Wikipedia


"Ecosystem resilience is the capacity of an ecosystem to tolerate disturbance without collapsing into a qualitatively different state that is controlled by a different set of processes. A resilient ecosystem can withstand shocks and rebuild itself when necessary. Resilience in social systems has the added capacity of humans to anticipate and plan for the future. Humans are part of the natural world. We depend on ecological systems for our survival and we continuously impact the ecosystems in which we live from the local to global scale. Resilience is a property of these linked social-ecological systems (SES). "Resilience" as applied to ecosystems, or to integrated systems of people and the natural environment, has three defining characteristics:

• The amount of change the system can undergo and still retain the same controls on function and structure
• The degree to which the system is capable of self-organization
• The ability to build and increase the capacity for learning and adaptation"

Source: The Resilience Alliance Website


“A resilient system is adaptable and diverse. It has some redundancy built in. A resilient perspective acknowledges that change is constant and prediction difficult in a world that is complex and dynamic… Resilience thinking is a new lens for looking a the natural world we are embedded in and the man-made world we have imposed upon it.”

Source: Ward C (2007) ‘Deisel-Driven Bee Slums and ImpotentTurkeys: The Case for Resilience’. 


“Resilience is the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganize while undergoing change, so as to still remain essentially the same function, structure, identity, and feedbacks.”

Source: B. Walker et al, ‘Resilience, Adaptability and Transformability in Social-ecological Systems’, Ecology and Society 9 (2) p. 5


“Resilience is the ability to absorb disturbances, to be changed and then to re-organise and still have the same identity (retain the same basic structure and ways of functioning). It includes the ability to learn from the disturbance. A resilient system is forgiving of external shocks.”

Source: The Resilience Alliance, http://www.resalliance.org/


“A Resilient City is one that has developed capacities to help absorb future shocks and stresses to its social, economic, and technical systems and infrastructures so as to still be able to maintain essentially the same functions, structures, systems, and identity.”


Source: Working Definition, ResilientCity.org