Framing Resilient Cities: Water and Public Spaces to Face Climate Change

A special issue of Land (ISSN 2073-445X). This special issue belongs to the section "Urban Contexts and Urban-Rural Interactions".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2022) | Viewed by 15671

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Interuniversity Institute of Geography, University of Alicante, 03690 Alicante, Spain
Interests: water governance; socioecological systems; nonconventional water resources; climate change adaptation
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

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Guest Editor
Department of Civil Engineering and Architecture, University of Pavia, 27100 Pavia, Italy
Interests: urban transformation and regeneration; landscaping; public space; urban culture

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Guest Editor
Geography Department, Autonomous University of Barcelona, 08193 Barcelona, Spain
Interests: water-related attitudes; water conservation; nonconventional water resources; urban ecology; urban sprawl

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Water from the sky, water from the ground: water has always been a fundamental resource of life and cities. Water can represent a threat and an opportunity for ensuring urban resilience while promoting the regenera­tion of the city through new public spaces activated by this resource. By combining the built environment and nature to face climate change impacts (e.g., flooding and water scarcity), public space is today more than ever a subject of debate and deep cultural and architectural reflection. In a historical mo­ment in which it is necessary to redefine the role of the contemporary city, policies at different scales are increasin­gly pushing toward the development of ecological and human-oriented cities. This is an urgent issue: cities today must know how to combine artifice and nature. Public space as a place for the community can represent the starting point for orienting sustainable development within the cities.
There is an urgent need to change the way we plan and construct cities in the changing climate focusing on water and public spaces. Unsustainable urban development—built-up floodplains, progressive surface sealing, small amounts of green space or urban sprawl encroaching on wildfire- and landslide-prone areas—magnifies the impacts of climate‑related hazards. Integration of gray and blue-green infrastructures for sponge cities could be the first step toward ensuring urban resilience.
For this Special Issue, we are interested in contributions that investigate and reflect the importance of water inside contemporary cities to face climate change through either empirical research or conceptual/theoretical works, examining any key processes. Contributions at the intersection of geography, political ecology, architecture, and urbanism are especially welcome, but contributions from other human–environment fields at the forefront pf water and public space in the climate change context are also highly welcome. Regional and scalar diversity in contributions is also desired.

Prof. Dr. Sandra Ricart
Prof. Dr. Carlo Berizzi
Prof. Dr. David Saurí
Guest Editors

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Keywords

  • gray infrastructure
  • Nature-Based Solutions
  • climate change adaptation
  • urban resilience
  • urban planning
  • urban design
  • water management
  • water scarcity
  • flooding
  • human-oriented cities
  • public spaces
  • landscaping

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

24 pages, 4493 KiB  
Article
The Social, Political, and Environmental Dimensions in Designing Urban Public Space from a Water Management Perspective: Testing European Experiences
by Sandra Ricart, Carlo Berizzi, David Saurí and Gaia Nerea Terlicher
Land 2022, 11(9), 1575; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11091575 - 15 Sep 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 3606
Abstract
Urban areas are increasingly experiencing extreme weather events, especially related to water (e.g., droughts, heatwaves, floods), which are devastatingly impacting infrastructure and human lives. Compact cities, conceived to create more robust, effective, and sustainable environments, are under pressure to increase their resilience by [...] Read more.
Urban areas are increasingly experiencing extreme weather events, especially related to water (e.g., droughts, heatwaves, floods), which are devastatingly impacting infrastructure and human lives. Compact cities, conceived to create more robust, effective, and sustainable environments, are under pressure to increase their resilience by co-producing adaptive strategies mainly focused on the urban public space. However, public space design tends to face environmental challenges without sufficiently exploring their intersection with social issues (citizens living conditions and vulnerability) and political structures (governance). This contribution delves into how urban public space interventions are (not) moving towards achieving urban resilience in an integrated way instead of sectoral. A triple-loop approach has been developed and tested in ten urban public spaces in European compact cities in the last 25 years. The results report how most projects reinforce the social dimension by promoting citizen well-being through new quality standards in public spaces, excluding some citizenry’s vulnerable segments (immigrants, women, and disabled). The political dimension reinforces hard adaptation measures to manage water resources, although increasing attention is put on nature-based solutions, and most projects ensure participation processes. Finally, the environmental dimension is the most transversal by increasing land conversion, ensuring flooding mitigation, and enhancing adaptive capacity. Full article
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25 pages, 1658 KiB  
Article
Nature-Based Solutions to Hydro-Climatic Risks: Barriers and Triggers for Their Implementation in Seville (Spain)
by Ángela Lara and Leandro del Moral
Land 2022, 11(6), 868; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11060868 - 8 Jun 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 4170
Abstract
Nature-based solutions (NbS) are currently a priority of international institutions (UN and EU) to improve urban resilience to hydro-climatic risks. However, responsible institutions, such as river basin authorities and local governments, while still prioritizing gray infrastructure, often present resistance to these strategies. This [...] Read more.
Nature-based solutions (NbS) are currently a priority of international institutions (UN and EU) to improve urban resilience to hydro-climatic risks. However, responsible institutions, such as river basin authorities and local governments, while still prioritizing gray infrastructure, often present resistance to these strategies. This paper analyzes this issue in the case of Seville (Spain). We identify historical and recent institutional practices related to the development of gray infrastructure and the experience of citizens’ movements that demand the implementation of green infrastructure and the naturalization of urban space. Based on the theoretical framework of the sustainability transition, the article contributes to the identification of the factors that hinder or trigger the processes of change, drawing from the results of a case with a long tradition in hydro-climatic disaster management. The research has included an in-depth review of risk planning in the city of Seville, semi-structured interviews with 24 social and institutional actors, and participant observation of both urban planning processes and the practices of citizen movements. Our results show that the generation of shared visions clashes, first with conflicting perceptions of the city’s strengths and weaknesses regarding risks; second, with contradictions between institutional discourses and practices, and finally, with the operational limitations of public participation processes. Full article
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15 pages, 5001 KiB  
Article
Design and Evaluation of Green Space In Situ Rainwater Regulation and Storage Systems for Combating Extreme Rainfall Events: Design of Shanghai Gongkang Green Space to Adapt to Climate Change
by Changkun Xie, Zhedong Wang, Bingqin Yu and Shengquan Che
Land 2022, 11(6), 777; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11060777 - 25 May 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1675
Abstract
Global climate change has led to more extreme rainfall events. Exploring the different design schemes of rainwater in situ regulation and storage systems in green spaces to cope with extreme rainfall events is critical to cities for combating flood disasters. Using the Gongkang [...] Read more.
Global climate change has led to more extreme rainfall events. Exploring the different design schemes of rainwater in situ regulation and storage systems in green spaces to cope with extreme rainfall events is critical to cities for combating flood disasters. Using the Gongkang green space as the research object and the XPDrainage software program as the simulation tool, this study explored and evaluated different design schemes of rainwater in situ regulation and storage systems in green spaces and their responses to extreme rainfall events in Shanghai. Based on the simulated results of the runoff curves, paths and ponding area of the Gongkang green space, the ideal number and position of rainwater regulation and storage facilities were determined. Four different schemes were examined: Scheme A (diversion-oriented), Scheme B (infiltration- and detention-oriented) and schemes C and D (comprehensive rainwater regulation and storage systems). From the simulation evaluation, the total runoff volume capture rate of Scheme C reached 100%, 99.8% and 98.2% under one-, three- and five-year return period rainfall events, respectively. For the 210 mm extraordinary rainstorm event, Scheme C’s and Scheme D’s total runoff volume capture rates reached 81.9% and 94.7%, respectively. Therefore, the comprehensive rainwater regulation and storage schemes (schemes C and D) met the runoff control requirements under extreme rainfall events in the Gongkang green space. This study provides a technical reference for the optimal design of a rainwater in situ regulation and storage system in a green space and promotes the construction of resilient cities. Full article
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23 pages, 1742 KiB  
Article
Community Acceptance of Nature-Based Solutions in the Delta of the Tordera River, Catalonia
by Andrea Nóblega-Carriquiry, Hug March and David Sauri
Land 2022, 11(4), 579; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11040579 - 14 Apr 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 2484
Abstract
Much has been debated regarding the environmental and economic aspects that conform the pillars of sustainability in nature-based solutions (NbSs). However, the social implications are lagging behind in both theory and practice. NbSs are not inherently socially and environmentally just and they might [...] Read more.
Much has been debated regarding the environmental and economic aspects that conform the pillars of sustainability in nature-based solutions (NbSs). However, the social implications are lagging behind in both theory and practice. NbSs are not inherently socially and environmentally just and they might not work for or benefit everyone. On the contrary, they may lead to unequal environmental tradeoffs influencing therefore community acceptance. This research explored the different levels of community acceptance of NbSs in the Tordera delta (Catalonia) through structured interviews and Q-methodology with representative stakeholders. It pretended to contribute to more just NbS discussions by identifying variables of community acceptance through a socio-environmental perspective. The results exposed existing socio-economic and socio-spatial differences that cause unequal co-benefits and tradeoffs among stakeholders of the area. Three distinctive discourses were identified: (1) NbSs as an opportunity to re-naturalize the river; (2) the possibility of NbS implementation if aligned with the current socio-economic structure of the delta; and (3) the belief in a hybrid NbS future, combining grey infrastructure and NbSs. Building on those results and discussions, the paper reflected on a restructuration of the delta’s governance through further collaborative processes to seek a more socio-environmentally just and inclusive NbSs in the area. Full article
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30 pages, 3227 KiB  
Article
To Be, to Do, to Share: The Triple-Loop of Water Governance to Improve Urban Water Resilience—Testing the Benidorm’ Experience, Spain
by Sandra Ricart and Antonio M. Rico-Amorós
Land 2022, 11(1), 121; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11010121 - 12 Jan 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2536
Abstract
Peri-urban interfaces tend to ensure water supply relying on their surrounding’ resources, generating water disputes when asking for collaboration. The urban-rural matrix of the Marina Baja county in southern Spain is characterized by inland irrigation and coastal tourism development, being the most water-intensive [...] Read more.
Peri-urban interfaces tend to ensure water supply relying on their surrounding’ resources, generating water disputes when asking for collaboration. The urban-rural matrix of the Marina Baja county in southern Spain is characterized by inland irrigation and coastal tourism development, being the most water-intensive activities in Benidorm. This contribution addresses the following research question: Can a better and systematic understanding of stakeholders’ behavior and interactions increase water resilience in urban-rural interfaces? Data were collected from semi-structured interviews and questionnaires to 19 key stakeholders representing government officials, water managers, and the agricultural, tourism, and environmental sectors. Data were analyzed following the SAA and using MaxQDA® Analytics Pro 2020. A triple-loop analysis on water governance has been developed and applied to synthesize stakeholders’ behavior when addressing urban water resilience to face climate change impacts: relevance and representativeness (to be), recognition and assessment (to do), and collaboration (to share). Results highlighted how Benidorm’s urban water resilience is conditioned by four main learnings from stakeholders’ perception and interaction: (1) ‘feeling represented’ is related to stakeholders’ capacity to negotiate decisions, (2) lack of political will and Benidorm’s leading role increase stakeholders’ feelings of underrepresentation, motivating power imbalance, (3) stakeholders’ actions are less valued than stakeholders’ roles and functions, and (4) agreements are benefited by predisposition (willingness), but also by the compatibility of discourses (affinity) and the technical-management facilities (viability). Full article
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