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Special Issue "Urban Resilience and Urban Sustainability: From Research to Practice"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Urban and Rural Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 May 2016)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Patricia Romero-Lankao

Urban Futures Program, Climate Science and Applications Program, Research Applications Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, 3450 Mitchell Lane, Boulder, CO, 80301, USA
Website1 | Website2 | E-Mail
Phone: +1 303 497 8104
Fax: +1 303 497 8401
Interests: the dynamics of urbanization and urban areas shaping resource use, vulnerabilities, capacities and risk; and the dimensions of decision makers’ capacity to develop governance arrangements for effective mitigation and adaptation actions
Guest Editor
Dr. Olga Wilhelmi

GIS Program, Climate Science and Applications Program, Research Applications Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research, 3450 Mitchell Lane, Boulder, CO, 80301, USA
Website1 | Website2 | E-Mail
Phone: +1 303 497 8126
Fax: +1 303 497 8401
Interests: the intersection of GIS and atmospheric sciences; societal risk and vulnerability to extreme weather events and climate change; urban heat and human health.
Guest Editor
Dr. Mary Hayden

Weather, Climate and Health Program, Climate Science and Applications Program, National Center for Atmospheric Research, 3450 Mitchell Lane, Boulder, CO, 80301, USA
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +1 303 497 8116
Fax: +1 303 497 8401
Interests: the intersection of weather, climate and health, social mobilization, and population vulnerability

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The question of how to change behaviors, infrastructures, cultures, and institutions to move toward the creation of more sustainable and resilient cities has received increased attention among scholars, decision makers, and global organizations (e.g., ICLEI, Rockefeller’s 100 Resilient Cities). However, while sustainability and resilience have become core issues for different strands of scholarship and communities of practice, strategies for bridging research and practice in our efforts to affect change towards more sustainable and resilient urban centers remain elusive. This Special Issue seeks to synthesize state-of the-art knowledge on theories and practices of urban sustainability and resilience. In particular, this Special Issue invites theoretical and empirical research articles that address the following questions: what are urban resilience and urban sustainability? How do these intersect, complement or contradict each other? What does it mean to have a city that is climate-resilient and sustainable? How one would measure urban resilience and sustainability? How does interdisciplinary research connect to policy-making to affect change towards sustainability and resilience in cities? How can resilience and sustainability be achieved in specific urban sectors, such as public health, water, and infrastructure?

Dr. Patricia Romero-Lankao
Dr. Olga Wilhelmi
Dr. Mary Hayden
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • urban resilience
  • urban sustainability
  • water
  • health
  • infrastructure
  • science-policy interface

Published Papers (14 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle The Challenges of Implementing Sustainable Development: The Case of Sofia’s Master Plan
Sustainability 2017, 9(1), 15; doi:10.3390/su9010015
Received: 16 June 2016 / Revised: 1 December 2016 / Accepted: 8 December 2016 / Published: 23 December 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (4436 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this paper, we explore how master planning promotes and implements particular urban development patterns and, more generally, contributes to sustainability. Our goal is to understand the link between urban growth intentions articulated through the master planning process and realisation of its specific
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In this paper, we explore how master planning promotes and implements particular urban development patterns and, more generally, contributes to sustainability. Our goal is to understand the link between urban growth intentions articulated through the master planning process and realisation of its specific forms, e.g., monocentric or polycentric, compact or dispersed. As a case study, we examine the current General Urban Development Plan (GUDP) of the Bulgarian capital Sofia against the city’s actual development pattern. We observe that the primary goals of the GUDP are to promote a polycentric urban structure and low-density expansion, as well as preserve green edges. While the question of whether and how these goals reflect the sustainability ideal requires further consideration, there are some indications that Sofia’s GUDP may not be effective in encouraging sustainable forms of growth. Substantial inconsistencies exist between the plan’s overall goals and some of its measures and implementation tools. The results on the ground suggest that, despite the plan’s low-density aspirations, Sofia is becoming more compact and densified, while losing its green edges and failing to redirect growth to its northern territories where ample space and opportunities exist. We conclude that employing the achievements of research on sustainability and developing relevant implementation tools such as more effective zoning regulations and viable suburban transportation infrastructure are necessary for realising both the patterns proposed through master planning and achieving sustainable urban growth. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Resilience and Urban Sustainability: From Research to Practice)
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Open AccessArticle Urban Sustainability and Resilience: From Theory to Practice
Sustainability 2016, 8(12), 1224; doi:10.3390/su8121224
Received: 22 August 2016 / Revised: 14 November 2016 / Accepted: 16 November 2016 / Published: 25 November 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (539 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Urbanization and urban areas are profoundly altering the relationship between society and the environment, and affecting cities’ sustainability and resilience in complex ways at alarming rates. Over the last decades, sustainability and resilience have become key concepts aimed at understanding existing urban dynamics
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Urbanization and urban areas are profoundly altering the relationship between society and the environment, and affecting cities’ sustainability and resilience in complex ways at alarming rates. Over the last decades, sustainability and resilience have become key concepts aimed at understanding existing urban dynamics and responding to the challenges of creating livable urban futures. Sustainability and resilience have also moved and are now core analytic and normative concepts for many scholars, transnational networks and urban communities of practice. Yet, even with this elevated scholarly attention, strategies for bridging between research and practice remain elusive, and efforts to understand and affect change towards more sustainable and resilient urban centers have often fallen short. This paper seeks to synthesize, from this issue’s papers and other strands of literature, the knowledge, theory and practice of urban sustainability and resilience. Specifically, we focus on what capacities urban actors draw on to create sustainability and resilience and how different definitions of these concepts intersect, complement, or contradict each other. We then examine the implications of those intersections and differences in the efforts by urban actors to enhance the capacity to change unsustainable trajectories and transform themselves, their communities, and their cities toward sustainable and resilient relationships with the environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Resilience and Urban Sustainability: From Research to Practice)
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Open AccessArticle The Urban Transition Performance of Resource-Based Cities in Northeast China
Sustainability 2016, 8(10), 1022; doi:10.3390/su8101022
Received: 21 July 2016 / Revised: 7 September 2016 / Accepted: 29 September 2016 / Published: 13 October 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (2891 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Resource-based cities face unique challenges when undergoing urban transitions because their non-renewable resources will eventually be exhausted. In this article, we introduce a new method of evaluating the urban transition performance of resource-based cities from economic, social and eco-environmental perspectives. A total of
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Resource-based cities face unique challenges when undergoing urban transitions because their non-renewable resources will eventually be exhausted. In this article, we introduce a new method of evaluating the urban transition performance of resource-based cities from economic, social and eco-environmental perspectives. A total of 19 resource-based cities in Northeast China are studied from 2003 to 2012. The results show that resource-based cities in Jilin and Liaoning provinces performed better than those in Heilongjiang province. Liaoyuan, Songyuan and Baishan were ranked as the top three resource-based cities; and Jixi, Yichun and Heihe were ranked last. Multi-resource and petroleum resource-based cities performed better than coal and forestry resource-based cities. We also analyzed the factors influencing urban transition performance using the method of the geographic detector. We found that capital input, road density and location advantage had the greatest effects on urban transition performance, followed by urban scale, remaining resources and the level of sustainable development; supporting policies and labor input had the smallest effects. Based on these insights, we have formulated several recommendations to facilitate urban transitions in China’s resource-based cities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Resilience and Urban Sustainability: From Research to Practice)
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Open AccessArticle A Social-Ecological Framework for Urban Stewardship Network Research to Promote Sustainable and Resilient Cities
Sustainability 2016, 8(9), 956; doi:10.3390/su8090956
Received: 20 May 2016 / Revised: 16 August 2016 / Accepted: 14 September 2016 / Published: 20 September 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (3428 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
To realize more sustainable and resilient urban social-ecological systems, there is great need for active engagement from diverse public agencies, non-profit organizations, businesses, natural resource managers, scientists, and other actors. Cities present unique challenges and opportunities for sustainability and resilience, as issues and
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To realize more sustainable and resilient urban social-ecological systems, there is great need for active engagement from diverse public agencies, non-profit organizations, businesses, natural resource managers, scientists, and other actors. Cities present unique challenges and opportunities for sustainability and resilience, as issues and organizations are frequently intertwined in networks of relations. Understanding and leveraging the range of knowledge types, motivations, skills, and goals of diverse participants and their networks is fundamental to sustainable and resilient cities. As efforts to examine and understand urban stewardship networks continue to emerge, it is increasingly clear that there are no structured or systematic frameworks to guide the integration of social and ecological phenomena. Such a framework could facilitate planning new urban stewardship network research, and provide a basis for comparisons among cities and their urban stewardship networks. In this paper, we develop and present a social-ecological framework for examining and understanding urban stewardship networks. To illustrate this framework and provide examples of its prospective and evaluative utility, we use examples from the U.S. Forest Service’s Stewardship Mapping (STEW-MAP) network in the United States from Baltimore, MD, USA, New York City, NY, USA, San Juan, Puerto Rico, USA, and Seattle, WA, USA. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Resilience and Urban Sustainability: From Research to Practice)
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Open AccessArticle Moving from Adaptive to Transformative Capacity: Building Foundations for Inclusive, Thriving, and Regenerative Urban Settlements
Sustainability 2016, 8(9), 955; doi:10.3390/su8090955
Received: 31 May 2016 / Revised: 29 July 2016 / Accepted: 15 August 2016 / Published: 20 September 2016
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (3216 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The commitment to understanding the implications of a 1.5 °C global temperature warming limit has contributed to a growing realisation that transformative adaptation is necessary to avoid catastrophic environmental and social consequences. This is particularly the case in urban settlements where disconnection from
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The commitment to understanding the implications of a 1.5 °C global temperature warming limit has contributed to a growing realisation that transformative adaptation is necessary to avoid catastrophic environmental and social consequences. This is particularly the case in urban settlements where disconnection from the systems that support life is pervasive and injustice and inequality play out daily. This paper argues that in order to transform towards thriving social-ecological systems, transformative capacity needs to be strengthened. The paper builds on the rich literature of adaptive capacity, alongside concepts of transformation that are drawn from resilience theory, organisational change, and developmental psychology. Reconnection to life-support systems, agency, and social cohesion are put forward as three foundational aspects of transformative capacity. A transdisciplinary case study of the FLOW programme in the Bergrivier Municipality, South Africa, is used to explore how transformative capacity has been built in practice. The case study explores an innovative programme that works with unemployed urban youth, alongside the exploration and introduction of a community currency in the informal business sector, and strengthening cross-scalar interaction between the local municipality and youth. The paper suggests that working across sectors and scales in a transdisciplinary manner is a challenging endeavour but necessary for building inclusive, thriving, and regenerative urban settlements. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Resilience and Urban Sustainability: From Research to Practice)
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Open AccessArticle Unpacking Resilience for Adaptation: Incorporating Practitioners’ Experiences through a Transdisciplinary Approach to the Case of Drought in Chile
Sustainability 2016, 8(9), 905; doi:10.3390/su8090905
Received: 30 May 2016 / Revised: 18 August 2016 / Accepted: 1 September 2016 / Published: 6 September 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (2155 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Current debate on the implementation of resilience in addressing climatic impacts calls for more pragmatic means of reducing losses. In this study we aimed to generate context-specific knowledge about resilience factors for addressing the impacts of drought, with the expectation that bringing forth
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Current debate on the implementation of resilience in addressing climatic impacts calls for more pragmatic means of reducing losses. In this study we aimed to generate context-specific knowledge about resilience factors for addressing the impacts of drought, with the expectation that bringing forth experiential knowledge on how impacts were addressed in the past would shed light on what constitutes key resilience factors for practitioners working in urban contexts. The study was carried in three of the largest cities in Chile: Santiago, Concepción, and Valdivia. The analytical framework consists of urban and regional resilience incorporating transdisciplinary approaches applying the Resilience-Wheel tool, combined with participatory methods for the co-production of knowledge and qualitative content analysis of documents and workshops. Results show that key determinants of building resilience to drought were: improving education and access to information, enhancing preparedness, promoting technology transfer, reinforcing organizational linkages and collaboration, decentralizing governance, and encouraging citizen participation. The Resilience-Wheel was useful for navigating the conceptual complexity and diversity of perspectives inherent among social actors. The transdisciplinary approach allowed us to co-produce key knowledge that can be applied to build resilience in future, through a bottom-up approach that bridges the science–policy interface. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Resilience and Urban Sustainability: From Research to Practice)
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Open AccessArticle Urban Heat Stress Vulnerability in the U.S. Southwest: The Role of Sociotechnical Systems
Sustainability 2016, 8(9), 842; doi:10.3390/su8090842
Received: 18 May 2016 / Revised: 6 August 2016 / Accepted: 17 August 2016 / Published: 25 August 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (222 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Heat vulnerability of urban populations is becoming a major issue of concern with climate change, particularly in the cities of the Southwest United States. In this article we discuss the importance of understanding coupled social and technical systems, how they constitute one another,
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Heat vulnerability of urban populations is becoming a major issue of concern with climate change, particularly in the cities of the Southwest United States. In this article we discuss the importance of understanding coupled social and technical systems, how they constitute one another, and how they form the conditions and circumstances in which people experience heat. We discuss the particular situation of Los Angeles and Maricopa Counties, their urban form and the electric grid. We show how vulnerable populations are created by virtue of the age and construction of buildings, the morphology of roads and distribution of buildings on the landscape. Further, the regulatory infrastructure of electricity generation and distribution also contributes to creating differential vulnerability. We contribute to a better understanding of the importance of sociotechnical systems. Social infrastructure includes codes, conventions, rules and regulations; technical systems are the hard systems of pipes, wires, buildings, roads, and power plants. These interact to create lock-in that is an obstacle to addressing issues such as urban heat stress in a novel and equitable manner. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Resilience and Urban Sustainability: From Research to Practice)
Open AccessArticle Breaking Resilient Patterns of Inequality in Santiago de Chile: Challenges to Navigate towards a More Sustainable City
Sustainability 2016, 8(8), 820; doi:10.3390/su8080820
Received: 26 May 2016 / Revised: 14 August 2016 / Accepted: 17 August 2016 / Published: 19 August 2016
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (2683 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Resilience can have desirable and undesirable consequences. Thus, resilience should not be viewed as a normative desirable goal, but as a descriptor of complex systems dynamics. From this perspective, we apply resilience thinking concepts to assess the dynamics of inequality, spatial segregation, and
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Resilience can have desirable and undesirable consequences. Thus, resilience should not be viewed as a normative desirable goal, but as a descriptor of complex systems dynamics. From this perspective, we apply resilience thinking concepts to assess the dynamics of inequality, spatial segregation, and sustainability in Chile’s capital city of Santiago. Chile’s economy boosted since democracy was restored in 1990, but continuity of neoliberal reforms and transformations of Pinochet’s dictatorship (1973–1990) seem to have locked Chilean cities in resilient, albeit unsustainable, patterns of uneven development. Socio-economic data from Santiago shows highly resilient patterns of urban inequality and segregation from 1992 to 2009 despite democratic efforts, political agendas and discourses packed with calls for reducing poverty and inequality. We present a conceptual model based on the notion of stability landscapes to explore potential trade-offs between resilience and sustainable development. We mapped Santiago’s spatio-temporal inequality trends and explored if these patterns support an inequality-resilience stability landscape. Analysis of temporal and spatial distribution of development assets across four human development dimensions (i.e., income, education, health, democracy) revealed potential socio-political and spatial feedbacks supporting the resilience of inequality and segregation in Santiago. We argue that urban sustainability may require breaking this resilience, a process where bottom-up stressors such as social movements could play a key role. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Resilience and Urban Sustainability: From Research to Practice)
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Open AccessArticle A Global Perspective on the Sustainable Performance of Urbanization
Sustainability 2016, 8(8), 783; doi:10.3390/su8080783
Received: 13 March 2016 / Revised: 26 July 2016 / Accepted: 5 August 2016 / Published: 11 August 2016
Cited by 8 | PDF Full-text (1063 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Urbanization, particularly in developing countries, is a major strategy for development. However, major concerns accompany it, such as air pollution, habitat destruction, and loss of arable land. In responding to these challenges, governments throughout the world have been implementing various policy mechanisms to
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Urbanization, particularly in developing countries, is a major strategy for development. However, major concerns accompany it, such as air pollution, habitat destruction, and loss of arable land. In responding to these challenges, governments throughout the world have been implementing various policy mechanisms to guide the practice of urbanization towards sustainable development. It appears that there is little research investigating the outcomes of those efforts in implementing sustainable urbanization strategies. This paper provides a profile of sustainable urbanization from a global perspective. Data used for this research cover 111 countries and are collected from the World Bank database and the United Nation database. A ranking list of sustainable performance of urbanization between these countries is produced and discussed. The study suggests that countries at different stages of urbanization have achieved different levels of sustainable performance. The research results provide significant references for future study in the field of urbanization from a global perspective. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Resilience and Urban Sustainability: From Research to Practice)
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Open AccessArticle Recognizing Stewardship Practices as Indicators of Social Resilience: In Living Memorials and in a Community Garden
Sustainability 2016, 8(8), 775; doi:10.3390/su8080775
Received: 1 June 2016 / Revised: 28 July 2016 / Accepted: 2 August 2016 / Published: 9 August 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (4498 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Resilience theory has received increased attention from researchers across a range of disciplines who have developed frameworks and articulated categories of indicators; however, there has been less discussion of how to recognize, and therefore support, social resilience at the community level, especially in
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Resilience theory has received increased attention from researchers across a range of disciplines who have developed frameworks and articulated categories of indicators; however, there has been less discussion of how to recognize, and therefore support, social resilience at the community level, especially in urban areas. The value of urban environmental stewardship for supporting social-ecological functioning and improving quality of life in cities has been documented, but recognizing it as a strategy for strengthening social resilience to respond to future disturbances has not been fully explored. Here we address the question: How can social resilience indicators be operationalized as stewardship practices in an urban context? Using a deductive coding approach drawing upon existing resilience frameworks we analyze qualitative data from community managed-open spaces in the New York City area that have responded to various chronic presses and acute disturbances including a hurricane and a terrorist attack. In each case we identify and characterize the type of grounded, empirically observable stewardship practices that demonstrate the following indicators of social resilience at the community level: place attachment, social cohesion, social networks, and knowledge exchange and diversification. The process of operationalizing abstract indicators of social resilience has important implications for managers to support social (and ecological) resilience in the specific areas where stewardship takes place, as well as potentially having greater effects that bridge beyond the spatial and temporal boundaries of the site. We conclude by suggesting how researchers and practitioners might learn from our examples so they can recognize resilience in other sites in order to both inform research frameworks and strengthen practice and programming, while keeping larger institutional structures and context in mind. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Resilience and Urban Sustainability: From Research to Practice)
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Open AccessArticle Towards an Urban Resilience Index: A Case Study in 50 Spanish Cities
Sustainability 2016, 8(8), 774; doi:10.3390/su8080774
Received: 24 May 2016 / Revised: 30 July 2016 / Accepted: 4 August 2016 / Published: 9 August 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1725 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Urbanization is a major driver of land use change and global environmental decline. With accelerated urbanization worldwide, it is essential to put in place new policies to conserve urban ecosystems, species and the services these provide in order to secure more sustainable, resilient
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Urbanization is a major driver of land use change and global environmental decline. With accelerated urbanization worldwide, it is essential to put in place new policies to conserve urban ecosystems, species and the services these provide in order to secure more sustainable, resilient and livable cities for the 21st century. In urban planning, the concept of resilience has broadly replaced the word sustainability. In recent years, resilience indicators have been gradually developed, but few address urban resilience from a social-ecological systems perspective. We develop a methodological framework to measure urban resilience, define an urban resilience index and apply it to Spanish province capitals as a case study. Results show that most Spanish province capitals are far from being resilient. We conclude that increased efforts to measure urban resilience should be in place, and we offer the urban resilience index as a theoretical framework for measuring resilience in urban social-ecological systems that can be gradually improved as more data become available. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Resilience and Urban Sustainability: From Research to Practice)
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Open AccessArticle Low Carbon Urban Transitioning in Shenzhen: A Multi-Level Environmental Governance Perspective
Sustainability 2016, 8(8), 720; doi:10.3390/su8080720
Received: 19 May 2016 / Revised: 15 July 2016 / Accepted: 26 July 2016 / Published: 29 July 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (924 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
As the world’s second largest economy, China ranks among the world’s top nations when it comes to carbon emission. Accordingly, its attitude towards climate change is closely followed by all parties concerned. There have been few studies on the role of environmental governance
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As the world’s second largest economy, China ranks among the world’s top nations when it comes to carbon emission. Accordingly, its attitude towards climate change is closely followed by all parties concerned. There have been few studies on the role of environmental governance in the transformation process to low-carbon, especially Chinese ones. This study analyzes the impact of government environmental regulation on the low-carbon city transformation process by adopting Shenzhen as the research object. One of the world’s youngest super cities, Shenzhen also happens to be the city with the lowest carbon emission intensity in China. The multi-level governance framework is a useful mechanism with which to gauge divisions of responsibility and resources. This paper uses multilevel environmental governance to explain the policy for dealing with the climate in the city of Shenzhen. Striving to explore green low-carbon development path for the whole country, Shenzhen provides practical experience for countries to cope with global climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Resilience and Urban Sustainability: From Research to Practice)
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Open AccessArticle Comparing Conceptualizations of Urban Climate Resilience in Theory and Practice
Sustainability 2016, 8(7), 701; doi:10.3390/su8070701
Received: 27 May 2016 / Revised: 6 July 2016 / Accepted: 18 July 2016 / Published: 21 July 2016
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (2044 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In the face of climate change, scholars and policymakers are increasingly concerned with fostering “urban resilience”. This paper seeks to contribute towards a better understanding of synergies and differences in how academics and local decision-makers think about resilience in the context of climate
[...] Read more.
In the face of climate change, scholars and policymakers are increasingly concerned with fostering “urban resilience”. This paper seeks to contribute towards a better understanding of synergies and differences in how academics and local decision-makers think about resilience in the context of climate change. We compare definitions and characteristics of urban climate resilience in the academic literature with a survey of 134 local government representatives from across the U.S. Our analysis shows discrepancies in how academics and practitioners define and characterize urban climate resilience, most notably in their focus on either “bouncing back” or “bouncing forward” after a disturbance. Practitioners have diverse understandings of the concept, but tend to favor potentially problematic “bouncing back” or engineering-based definitions of resilience. While local government respondents confirm the importance of all 16 resilience characteristics we identified in the academic literature, coding practitioners’ free response definitions reveals that they rarely mention qualities commonly associated with resilience in the scholarly literature such as diversity, flexibility, and redundancy. These inconsistencies need to be resolved to ensure both the usability of climate resilience research and the effectiveness of resilience policy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Resilience and Urban Sustainability: From Research to Practice)
Open AccessArticle Between Participation and Collective Action—From Occasional Liaisons towards Long-Term Co-Management for Urban Resilience
Sustainability 2016, 8(7), 664; doi:10.3390/su8070664
Received: 24 May 2016 / Revised: 20 June 2016 / Accepted: 6 July 2016 / Published: 13 July 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (920 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
For resilience building, cities need to foster learning and innovation processes among all actors in order to develop transformative capacities of urban governance regimes to manage extraordinary situations as well as continuous change. A close collaboration of urban governmental actors and citizens is,
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For resilience building, cities need to foster learning and innovation processes among all actors in order to develop transformative capacities of urban governance regimes to manage extraordinary situations as well as continuous change. A close collaboration of urban governmental actors and citizens is, therefore, of high importance. This paper explores two different discourses on urban governance: participation and self-organized collective action for the management of the commons. Both address the involvement of citizens into governance, albeit from different perspectives: on the one hand from the viewpoint of the government, selectively handing some of its power over to citizens, on the other hand from the perspective of citizens who self-organize for a collective management of urban commons. Based on experiences in the Austrian city of Korneuburg, it is argued that the collective action literature may help overcome some of the self-criticisms and shortcomings of the participation discourse. More specifically, Elinor Ostrom’s design principles for the management of the commons provide valuable input to overcome restrictions in thinking about citizen participation and to effectively design institutions for long-term urban co-management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Resilience and Urban Sustainability: From Research to Practice)

Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: The Scaffolding of Municipal Sustainability: Discovering Patterns of Government-Citizen Interaction and Altered Collective Behavior
Authors: Jennifer Vanos 1, Robert Forbis 2 and Nathaniel Wright 3
Affiliations: 1 PhD, Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Science, Climate Science Center Faculty Associate, Department of Geosciences, Texas Tech University; E-Mail: jennifer.vanos@ttu.edu
2 PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Climate Science Center, Texas Tech University
3 PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Climate Science Center, Texas Tech University
Abstract: Municipalities have become policy labs for sustainability efforts with an eye to climate change. One indicator of this phenomenon is the emergence of Offices of Sustainability within municipal governments. Most academic literature concerning the efforts of these administrative entities is found in the field of Urban Planning. Importantly, most of this literature concerns itself with the process by which municipalities have undertaken individual programs and/or projects, their implementation, and whether they appear to have been successful in achieving their specified objectives. Thus, there is an absence of integrative academic research where municipal sustainability efforts are examined as a whole in order to determine—in a holistic and interdisciplinary manner—whether or not these efforts have had the effect of altering the environmental behavior of a city’s population, bridging research and practice, and/or creating a more resilient city.
One reason for this gap in knowledge is the lack of available data documenting local sustainability efforts and the processes used by local offices of sustainability. Therefore, this research will collect, analyze, and synthesize data from United States municipalities where sustainability programs are in varied stages of implementation. The new understanding gleaned from the collected data will lead to the formulation of a preliminary framework demonstrating the ideal mechanisms for sustainability-oriented informational networks. Secondly, findings from this study will be used to develop a framework that will synthesize state-of the-art knowledge on theories and practices of “environmentally-oriented” efforts of urban sustainability and resilience, while the focus on interdisciplinary perspectives will provide empirical data that deal with core issues for different strands of scholarship and communities of practice.
The existence of such empirical data would significantly improve the capacity of polycentric systems of municipal governance to affect positive change in collective societal behavior as an overarching strategic objective of sustainability programs. The mapping of an ideal type polycentric system of sustainability will serve as “scaffolding”. Once the scaffolding is built, it will allow future research efforts to more accurately demonstrate the inherent dynamism that is required of such systems if the overarching strategic objective is to achieve the collective benefit the environment and reduce emissions. In turn, we believe findings such as these hold the potential to serve as a framework for other municipalities to implement similar strategies—for the purpose of operating independently, by affecting change jointly—to achieve even greater effect in reducing greenhouse, and increasing urban sustainability and resilience.

Title: Resilience of Socio-Spatial Inequality in Santiago de Chile: Challenges to Navigate towards a Sustainable Urban Development
Authors: Ignacio C. Fernández 1,*, David Manuel-Navarrete 2 and Robinson Torres-Salinas 3
Affiliations: 1 PhD Candidate, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA
2 Assistant Professor, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA; E-Mail: davidmn@asu.edu
3 PhD Candidate, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA; E-Mail: robinson.torres@asu.edu
Abstract: Chile’s development has followed a path of economic and urban growth since 1990. However, the neoliberal reforms implemented by the Pinochet dictatorship (1973–1990), and the lack of effective policies to offset their social impacts, has resulted in socially segregated cities where human development opportunities are spatially concentrated in richer neighborhoods. Even though political agendas and discourses after 1990 have been packed with calls for reducing poverty and inequality, the pattern of urban segregation has been highly resilient. In this work, we argue that urban inequalities in Chile are structurally rooted in a resilient pattern of development that promotes an uneven spatial distribution of economic, social and political opportunities. We describe this pattern by analyzing multiple dimensions of inequality (i.e., income, education, and health) across time and space, comparing the 34 municipalities making-up the capital city of Santiago from 1992 to 2009. Our results show a highly resilient pattern of uneven development in Santiago. We combine a political-ecological approach with the adaptive cycle and resilience framework to discuss these results. We conclude that combinations of endogenous processes and external disturbances may contribute to break the resilience of the uneven geographical development in Santiago, allowing the city to transform and navigate toward a more equitable and sustainable trajectory.

Title: Unpacking Resilience for Adaptation: Incorporating Practitioners’ Experiences through a Transdisciplinary Approach, the Case of Drought in Chile
Abstract: Current debate on the implementation of resilience in addressing climatic impacts highlights the need for more tangible and salient experiences with these impacts in practice as means for learning and generating pragmatic knowledge on measures to alleviate impacts and reduce losses. In this study we aimed to generate context-specific knowledge of resilience factors considered important for addressing climatic impacts such as droughts in the Chilean context. The analytical framework applied in this study consists of resilience theory incorporating transdisciplinary approaches; specifically, we used the Resilience Wheel tool proposed by Aldunce et al. 2015, combined with participatory approaches for the co-production of knowledge and qualitative content analysis of documents and workshops. From the perspective of practitioners in Chile, we have learnt about the main impacts of recent Mega-drought (system knowledge), what constitute key determinants and their attributes for building resilience to drought (target knowledge), and key considerations related to solutions for addressing droughts (transformation knowledge), which forms the basis for evaluating the effectiveness of resilience building and thereby validates resilience theory in practice. The Resilience-Wheel was useful for navigating the conceptual complexity and perceptual diversity inherent in social actors. In this paper we highlight the importance of social learning in co-producing knowledge on resilience factors that would otherwise remain ambiguous or abstract for implementation or evaluation for resilience building to drought as adaptation.
Keywords: drought; Chile; climate change; resilience; adaptation; transdisciplinarity; co-production

Title: Why Urban Resilience? Examining the Benefits and Caveats of Introducing Urban Resilience in Urban Planning and Governance
Author: Niki Frantzeskaki
Affiliation: DRIFT, Faculty of Social Science, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Abstract: Urban resilience is a concept that only recently has been actively undertaken by cities around the world. Even though the concept exists in the scientific literature since the 1970s and research on urban ecology has engaged with the concept mainly for introducing thinking on complexity, social-ecological systems and their vulnerabilities (Pickett et al. 2008; McPhearson et al. 2015; Andersson et al. 2015), it is only to a limited degree informed plans and policies at city level. Interpretative and analytical work on the benefits of urban resilience concept as an analytical bridging concept for urban planning provided directions for its adaptation by cities (Wilkinson et al. 2010; Wagenaar and Wilkinson 2015). In this contribution we build on this work and extend it by showing what are the recognized benefits and caveats when introducing and taking up the concept of urban resilience in strategic level as well as in program level of urban governance. We build from a multi-case study approach that brings together insights from four European cities that forerun in adopting the urban resilience concept at strategic and program level by being involved in the 100 Resilient Cities of the Rockefeller foundation and the Resilient Europe project.
The cities from which we build upon as empirical research grounds for this contribution include: Veijle, in Sweden, Glasgow and Bristol in United Kingdom and Thessaloniki in Greece. For each city a series of interviews with policy officers from different planning departments were conducted to acquire information on the recognized and perceived benefits and limitations of the concept of urban resilience. The interviews took place from November 2015 to January 2016. We employed a narrative frame analysis to the collected data that resulted in the following common frames for benefits and caveats of urban resilience across all the cities.
The commonly recognized and perceived benefits of (uptaking and adopting the concept of) urban resilience in urban planning and governance include: At the strategic level of urban governance (a) urban resilience is an integrative concept that allows to connect objectives and actions across different departments for developing a common understanding and strategic agenda for achieving it; (b) urban resilience is a concept that allows to search for systemic solutions in (view of) vulnerabilities and risks (“turn risks into opportunities”); and (c) urban resilience is transformative concept that requires new planning approaches that address resilience qualities such as redundancy and flexibility that are contradictory to the quality of efficiency (that is a basic principle to new public management approach that many cities follow). At the program level of urban governance (d) urban resilience is a multi-faceted concept that requires a new understanding of contextual conditions across social, ecological, economic and institutional sub-systems and in turn, allows for policy learning about assets and vulnerabilities and (e) urban resilience is an empowering concept for community engagement and programs that allows deeper understanding of assets and barriers to overcome social vulnerabilities and social problems.
The caveats of (uptaking and adopting the concept of) urban resilience for urban planning and governance include: (a) the conceptual exchangeability with sustainability that undermines the benefits it may bring for policy learning (a topic also addressed by Elmqvist, Frantzeskaki et al. 2016); (b) the appearing apolitical meaning it may receive due to the association with engineering robustness and resourcefulness as well as (c) the false association with neo-liberal agendas on incentivized ‘self-organisation’ as an aspiration for achieving social urban resilience (see also Olsson et al. 2014).

Title: Urban Heat Stress Vulnerability in the U.S. Southwest: The Role of Sociotechnical Systems
Authors: Mike Chester and Stephanie Pincetl
Abstract: Heat vulnerability of urban populations is becoming a major issue of concern with climate change, particularly in the cities of the southwest United States. In this article we discuss the importance of understanding coupled social and technical systems, how they constitute one another, and how they form the conditions and circumstances in which people experience heat. We discuss the particular situation of Los Angeles and Maricopa Counties, their urban form and the electric grid. We show how vulnerable populations are created by virtue of the age and construction of buildings, the morphology of roads and distribution of buildings on the landscape. Further, the regulatory infrastructure of electricity generation and distribution also contributes to creating differential vulnerability. We contribute to a better understanding of the importance of sociotechnical systems. Social infrastructure includes codes, conventions, rules and regulations, and technical systems are the hard systems of pipes, wires, buildings, roads, powerplants. These interact to create lock-in that is an obstacle to addressing such issues as urban heat stress in a novel and equitable manner.

Title: Moving from Adaptive to Transformative Capacity: Building Foundations for Just, Inclusive, Innovative Human Settlements
Authors: Gina Ziervogel, Anna Cowen and John Ziniades
Abstract: There is growing acceptance that transformational adaptation is necessary to enable system change rather than relying on incremental adaptation that avoids local disruptions to climate and other risks. This is particularly the case in human settlements where disconnection is rife and injustice plays out daily. This paper argues that in order to transform towards thriving social-ecological systems, transformative capacity needs to be strengthened. The paper builds on the rich literature of adaptive capacity, alongside concepts of transformation that are drawn from organizational change and developmental psychology literature. Agency and social cohesion are put forward as two foundational aspects of transformative capacity. A transdisciplinary case study of the FLOW project in the Bergrivier Municipality, South Africa is used to explore how transformative capacity has been built in practice. Three vignettes unpack where transformative capacity has started to be built, namely through (1) an innovative curriculum for unemployed urban youth, (2) exploration and introduction of a community currency in the informal business sector and (3) strengthening cross-scalar interaction between the local municipality and youth. The paper suggests that working across sectors and scales is a challenging endeavor but necessary for transforming the socio-ecological system.

Title: Increasing Climate Change Resilience through Emplacement of Green Infrastructure across an Urban Landscape: A Case Study of Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
Authors: Esther S. Parish 1, Olufemi A. Omitaomu 2, Erin Gill 3 and Jim Hagerman 4
Affiliations: 1 Climate Change Science Institute (CCSI), Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Oak Ridge, Tennessee, USA; 2 Urban Dynamics Institute (UDI), ORNL, Oak Ridge, TN, USA; 3 Office of Sustainability, City of Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; 4 Office of Engineering, City of Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
Abstract: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is promoting the use of green infrastructure (e.g., porous pavements, green roofs, street planters) to reduce urban storm water runoff, which can be a significant and costly nuisance for cities. While tools exist to measure local runoff changes resulting from individual green infrastructure (GI) projects, most U.S. cities currently have no method of analyzing the collective impact of individual GI projects on urban stormwater systems under future rainfall scenarios and impervious surface distribution patterns. Based on collaboration with the inland, mid-sized City of Knoxville, Tennessee, we propose a set of indicators to analyze potential risks and benefits associated with investing in GI under different scenarios of combined climate change and population growth. We explore the effectiveness of the proposed suite of indicators across several spatial scales (e.g., site, neighborhood, watershed, city) in order to evaluate potential changes in overall climate change resilience that might result from the collective implementation of GI projects across an urban landscape.
Keywords: climate change resilience; emerging cities; urban hydrology; green infrastructure; indicators; future scenarios; population growth; Urban-CAT

Title: At the Street Corner and in the Garden: Recognizing Civic Stewardship Practices as Indicators of Social Resilience
Authors: Heather McMillen 1, Erika Svendsen 2, Lindsay Campbell 2 and Renae Reynolds 3
Affiliations: 1 US Forest Service, Postdoctoral Research Social Scientist;
2 US Forest Service, Research Social Scientist
3 US Forest Service, Program Coordinator for Landscapes of Resilience
Abstract: While resilience theory has received increased attention over the last decade in a range of disciplines, there has been comparatively less discussion of how to recognize, and therefore support social resilience at the community level, especially in urban areas (Meerow et al., 2016). Research has developed frameworks and articulated indicators of social resilience in cities. Key elements include collective identity and mutual support, observed as community engagement, strong social networks, and social integration (Rockefeller Foundation 2014; Resilience Alliance 2010). At the same time, scholars examining how stewardship can enhance social-ecological resilience identify the following key dimensions, among others: trust, knowledge co-production, shared governance, social networks, and attachment to place (Chapin et al., 2009; Tidball et al., 2010). There are social practices that are essential for fostering virtuous cycles that occur through interactions with urban green space (Tidball and Stedman 2013), while other practices are indicators of vicious cycles at work. What does resilience look like on the ground, or more specifically on the street corner, in the park, or in the garden? How can we understand stewardship, the act of caring for the environment on behalf of a greater public good, as a means to strengthen social trust, enhance civic participation, and foster social innovation, and thus contribute to urban social resilience?  When and how does environmental stewardship create social relations that bridge beyond the boundaries of the site? Drawing on interdisciplinary, longitudinal research of Forest Service social scientists, we address those questions by describing and analyzing three types of community managed-open spaces that have exhibited resilience to various disturbances: economic shifts, a hurricane, and a terrorist attack.  In each case, we identify and characterize the type of grounded, empirically observable stewardship practices that serve as indicators of resilience at the community level.   In so doing, we aim to refine social indicators to inform research frameworks and strengthen practice and programming.
Keywords: stewardship; social resilience; community; urban green space; New York City
References: Chapin, F.S., III, G. P. Kofinas and C. Folke. (eds.) 2009. Principles of ecosystem stewardship: Resilience-based natural resource management in a changing world. New York, Springer.
Meerow, S., Newell, J. P., & Stults, M. 2016. Defining urban resilience: A review. /Landscape and Urban Planning/, /147/, 38–49. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2015.11.011
Resilience Alliance. 2010. Assessing resilience in social-ecological systems: Workbook for practitioners. Version 2.0. Online: http://www.resalliance.org/3871.php
Rockefeller Foundation. 2014. /City resilience index: City resilience framework/. Retrieved from https://www.rockefellerfoundation.org/report/city-resilience-framework/
Tidball, K. and R. Stedman 2013. "Positive dependency and virtuous cycles: From resourcedependence to resilience in urban Social Ecological Systems" Ecological Economics 86:292-299.
Tidball, K. G., Krasny, M. E., Svendsen, E., Campbell, L., & Helphand, K. (2010). Stewardship, learning, and memory in disaster resilience. /Environmental Education Research/, /16/(5-6), 591–609. doi:10.1080/13504622.2010.505437

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