Building ‘holistic’ community resilience in global cities? Still a complex matter…

Amita Bhakta, Loughborough University

AB GD

A resilient city: The Nairobi skyline. Image credit: Lmwangi available via commons.wikimedia.org (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license)

In a changing world with changing global and local environments, becoming ‘resilient’ is a phrase that is being used with greater frequently, particularly when it comes to our communities within the cities in which we live. But, what does it mean to be resilient anyway, and who should be involved?

The Guardian this week reported on the 37 cities to complete the final list of members of the Rockerfeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities programme, from Nairobi to Manchester and Honolulu. In this article, Herd and Mutiga (2016) call for a collaboration of all cities in the world to come together to build effective resilience against longer term threats and disasters by making ‘blueprints’.

In their timely article on resilience and communities in The Geographical Journal, Robinson and Carson (2016) call for interdisciplinary action.  The complexities of what it is to be resilient are ever more prevalent, with a growing list of categories of factors for communities to consider: economic resilience, resilience against things nature throws at them, having resilient social capital and skills to utilise in communities that allow different sources of power to exercise, among others. Yet, with resilience itself being such a complex term, shrouded at times with a lack of clarity on what it should be focussed upon, the 100 Resilient Cities programme needs to ensure that a wide range of understandings and meanings of resilience are incorporated in any plans. These 100 cities all come from different parts of the world, meaning different environments with different risks and threats. Effective resilience, whatever it means to these 100 cities and all communities within and beyond them, can be achieved, but only if a cohesive and ‘resilient’ approach to resilience itself is maintained with as many key actors as possible involved, who have strong understandings of the cities in which we live, and respect and integrate each other’s needs for and meanings of resilience.

books_icon Robinson, G. M. and Carson, D. A. (2016), Resilient communities: transitions, pathways and resourcefulness. The Geographical Journal, 182: 114–122. doi: 10.1111/geoj.12144

60-world2 Herd M and Mutiga M 100 Resilient Cities announces hundredth member, but ‘work is only just beginning’

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