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Sustainability 2016, 8(9), 844; doi:10.3390/su8090844

Avoiding Decline: Fostering Resilience and Sustainability in Midsize Cities

1
U.S. Geological Survey, Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68583, USA
2
Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68583, USA
3
Department of Civil Engineering, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68583, USA
4
College of Law, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844, USA
5
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801, USA
6
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Risk Management Research Laboratory, Cincinnati, OH 45268, USA
7
United States Army Corps of Engineer, Engineer Research and Development Center, Concord, MA 01742, USA
8
Urban Design Center, University of Idaho, Boise, ID 83702, USA
9
Idaho Water Resources Research Institute, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Tan Yigitcanlar
Received: 23 June 2016 / Revised: 11 August 2016 / Accepted: 12 August 2016 / Published: 26 August 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustaining the Shrinking City: Concepts, Dynamics and Management)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [6248 KB, uploaded 26 August 2016]   |  

Abstract

Eighty-five percent of United States citizens live in urban areas. However, research surrounding the resilience and sustainability of complex urban systems focuses largely on coastal megacities (>1 million people). Midsize cities differ from their larger counterparts due to tight urban-rural feedbacks with their immediate natural environments that result from heavy reliance and close management of local ecosystem services. They also may be less path-dependent than larger cities due to shorter average connection length among system components, contributing to higher responsiveness among social, infrastructural, and ecological feedbacks. These distinct midsize city features call for a framework that organizes information and concepts concerning the sustainability of midsize cities specifically. We argue that an integrative approach is necessary to capture properties emergent from the complex interactions of the social, infrastructural, and ecological subsystems that comprise a city system. We suggest approaches to estimate the relative resilience of midsize cities, and include an example assessment to illustrate one such estimation approach. Resilience assessments of a midsize city can be used to examine why some cities end up on sustainable paths while others diverge to unsustainable paths, and which feedbacks may be partially responsible. They also provide insight into how city planners and decision makers can use information about the resilience of midsize cities undergoing growth or shrinkage relative to their larger and smaller counterparts, to transform them into long-term, sustainable social-ecological systems. View Full-Text
Keywords: social-ecological systems; adaptive governance; transformative governance; cross-scale interactions; complexity; ecosystem services; resilience assessment; shrinking cities; urbanization; urban systems social-ecological systems; adaptive governance; transformative governance; cross-scale interactions; complexity; ecosystem services; resilience assessment; shrinking cities; urbanization; urban systems
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Allen, C.R.; Birge, H.E.; Bartelt-Hunt, S.; Bevans, R.A.; Burnett, J.L.; Cosens, B.A.; Cai, X.; Garmestani, A.S.; Linkov, I.; Scott, E.A.; Solomon, M.D.; Uden, D.R. Avoiding Decline: Fostering Resilience and Sustainability in Midsize Cities. Sustainability 2016, 8, 844.

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