What is Urban Resilience?

The capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses and systems within a city to survive, adapt and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience.

Today’s new normal requires models of governance that mitigate risk and respond to evolving challenges.

The world’s cities are more densely populated and more interconnected than ever before. While this brings increasing social and economic advantages, this also brings increasing vulnerabilities – today’s new normal requires models of governance that mitigate risk and respond to evolving challenges.

Business-as-usual models of reactive and siloed decision-making will not generate the fundamental strength and flexibility essential for us to thrive in the face of the acute shocks and chronic stresses of the 21st century.

Acute shocks are sudden, intense events that threaten a community, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and terrorist attacks. The impact of acute shocks is exacerbated by chronic stresses that weaken the fabric of a community over time, such as recurrent flooding, high unemployment, limited social safety nets, and inequitable public transportation systems.

It is rare that a city experiences just one type of challenge at a time. Instead, cities are confronted by combinations of acute shocks and chronic stresses.

Urban resilience is the capacity of a city’s systems, businesses, institutions, communities, and individuals to survive, adapt, and thrive, no matter what chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience.

By strengthening its underlying fabric and deepening its understanding of the risks that threaten its stability, a city can improve its overall trajectory and the well-being of its citizens; it can prosper in spite of rising challenges.

Urban resilience responds to three converging global megatrends: climate change, urbanization, and globalization. 

Urban resilience demands that cities look holistically at their capacities and their risks, including through meaningful engagement with the most vulnerable members of a community. This is not easy work.

Urban governance is often siloed, with separate teams designing disaster recovery plans, exploring sustainability issues, focusing on livelihoods and well-being, and examining land-use planning and infrastructure. This approach cannot meet the demands of today’s interconnected world. Cities are systems – not silos. Cities are made up of people and places, often experiencing rapid change.

Planning for a resilient urban future requires tackling challenges and creating solutions in a place-based, integrated, inclusive, risk-aware, and forward-looking manner.

Solutions developed through resilience approaches will allow cities to enjoy resilience dividends – helping to prevent and reduce the impact of shocks and stresses on the city’s people, economy, infrastructure and natural environment. 

News and Resources

Serie de Conversatorios # 4 -Establecimiento de oficinas de resiliencia: la experiencia de R-Cities y sus CROs 

Serie de Conversatorios # 4 -Establecimiento de oficinas de resiliencia: la experiencia de R-Cities y sus CROs 

El establecimiento de oficinas de resiliencia ha sido clave para asegurar una implementación efectiva de las estrategias de resiliencia de nuestras ciudades en Latinoamérica y en el mundo. Estas ...
<strong>Episode 8: Thriving – Making Cities Green, Resilient, and Inclusive in a Changing Climate</strong>

Episode 8: Thriving – Making Cities Green, Resilient, and Inclusive in a Changing Climate

In this episode, Francis Ghesquiere, Practice Manager at the World Bank and Head of the Secretariat for the GFDRR hosts the World Bank's urban economists Megha Mukim and Mark Roberts. The guest ...
Women and the Future of Resilience: Resilient Cities Network Chair and Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner joins Latin America and the Caribbean Convening

Women and the Future of Resilience: Resilient Cities Network Chair and Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner joins Latin America and the Caribbean Convening

Mexico City - (R-Cities). Cities of Resilient Cities Network’s Latin America and the Caribbean region convened in Mexico City last week with a focus on climate change and gender equity.

Accelerating Resilience Solutions

Our thematic, multi-city programs drive collaboration, investments and impact in critical systems that serve vulnerable communities.