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Open AccessArticle

City-To-City Learning for Urban Resilience: The Case of Water Squares in Rotterdam and Mexico City

Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80115, 3508TC Utrecht, The Netherlands
Department of Geography, King’s College London, 40 Aldwych, London WC2B 4BG, UK
Centre for the Study of the Sciences and the Humanities, University of Bergen, P.O. Box 7805, 5020 Bergen, Norway
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2019, 11(5), 983;
Received: 11 April 2019 / Revised: 1 May 2019 / Accepted: 7 May 2019 / Published: 10 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Flood Risk Governance for More Resilience)
Cities worldwide are building ‘resilience’ in the face of water-related challenges. International networks have emerged through which urban communities draw on each other’s experiences and expertise in order to become resilient cities. Learning is a key principle in resilience-building, but thus far little empirical research is available on city-to-city learning and learning for urban resilience. This paper presents an analysis of how policy relevant knowledge on the notion of ‘Water Squares’ is exchanged between Rotterdam and Mexico City. We mobilize a framework composed of four distinct phases: exploration and marketing (phase 1), building pipelines (phase 2), translation and adoption (phase 3), and internalization and reflection (phase 4). Critical in first phase was introspective analysis of one’s own systems, strengths and weaknesses, rather than an outward-looking search for knowledge or mentees. During the second phase, the cities reframed their own narratives to match those of their counterparts as a way to create a mutual understanding of each other’s struggles and histories. This facilitated policy and knowledge exchange as equal partners on a basis of trust. In the third phase, strong local leaders were recruited into the process, which was key to anchor knowledge in the community and to reduce the risks of losing institutional memory in centralized, hierarchical institutions. For the fourth phase it should be stressed that by internalizing such lessons, cities might strengthen not only their own resilience, but also enhance future exchanges with other cities. View Full-Text
Keywords: city-to-city learning; policy transfer; resilient cities; water squares city-to-city learning; policy transfer; resilient cities; water squares
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Ilgen, S.; Sengers, F.; Wardekker, A. City-To-City Learning for Urban Resilience: The Case of Water Squares in Rotterdam and Mexico City. Water 2019, 11, 983.

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