As the World Cup winds down, I can finally get back to real life. I do have the very latest on my post last Monday June 30, 2014, regarding the latest design proposal for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art but first today's post is about the connection between resilience and sustainable cites. The basis for today's edition is an article by Timon McPhearson titled "The Rise of Resilience: Linking Resilience and Sustainable City Planning," for Sustainable Cities Collective. Urban resilience around the world has become the latest trend in urban planning and design. Mr. McPhearson wonders, "Resilience to what and for whom? Additionally, resilience...in many cases as a replacement for sustainability, which it is not." They're two different things that are connected. They need to be defined with clarity and precision.
|The Statue of Liberty during Hurricane Sandy|
Sandy Nadine Di Ninno
One thing is certain, a clear definition is necessary.
|Coastal New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy|
I came away from the Resilience2014 conference with the realization that we still serious work to do to understand how all this research and discussion on the benefits of urban nature and ecosystem services relate to the rapid rise of resilience planning, resilience design, and resilient cities initiatives.
Therefore, how do we define resilience?
Typically, resilience is defined as "bouncing back from a disturbance." Timon McPhearson cites the post-Sandy resilience report, "A Stronger More Resilient New York" published by the New York City Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency, as his example for this common definition. The report chiefly focused on rebuilding and recovery, from a pointedly engineering resilience point of view. By contrast, the ecological take on the subject is not just about "bouncing back" and recovery but also about adaptability-adaptive capacity. In this sense, resilience can be defined as "...the capacity of a system to experience shocks while retaining function, structure, feedbacks and therefore, identity."
|Definition of sustainability and resilience concepts|
after Folke et al. 2010 and Tuvendal and Elmqvist 2012
|Sea gate proposal|
"A Stronger, More Resilient New York"
NYC Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency
Resilience can also be understood as the ability to latch onto a specific path. The generalities of this concepts imply that it can be adapted and adopted to multiple types of systems. It can also mean that resilience can both help us attain a desired future, lock institutions, political structures, ecosystems, or cities into undesired unsustainable states. One example, corruption and organized crime are very resilient-not part of a sustainable future. On this point, I have to wonder why Timon McPhearson chose corruption and organized crime as an example of undesired unsustainable states. By the same token, given the monumental inequities of our cities, we need to consider the resilience of what, to what, and specifically, for whom? Going back to the proposed sea gate installation for the moment, an operable sea gate in New York Harbor might mitigate storm surges and flooding for some residents of Manhattan and Brooklyn but for others, it could have a negative effect. One negative side effect would be a decrease in resilience for the residents and ecosystems in Staten Island, New Jersey, or Long Island. Therefore, urban resilience planning and management has to have a serious social-ecological perspective so that the results contribute to the equity, human well-being, and ecological integrity of a place.
|View of the Manhattan Bridge from DUMBO|
The point to all of this is understanding that urban resilience and urban sustainability are two ideas that promote plurality and diversity of remedies to social-ecological issues which urban planning needs to deal with in a new context for transforming cities. Resilience and sustainability are not mutually incompatible, rather, they can support each other toward a more desirable future.
Like me on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/lenorelowen
Follow me on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/glamavon and on Pinterest http://www.pinterest.com/glamtroy
Instagram- find me at hpblogger