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What is Urban Resilience?

Defining Urban Resilience

A definition of urban resilience can provide insights and understanding into complex ideas surrounding sustainability and vulnerability, and is increasingly being used to understand highly complex, dynamic social systems like urban areas. It is important as urban areas today are facing a range of shocks and stresses from both natural and man-made hazards. From rapid population growth, to climate change, to political instability and public health issues, cities are facing amplified challenges that are unlike any they have managed before.

We have combined some of the key events that have driven the view and opinions surrounding resilience which help us to understand what we need to do to improve the environment we all live in, helping to make safer, we which ensure that future generations have the same possibilities we enjoy today.

There has been a steady increase in research surrounding resilience as a concept. Resilience has become a very visible term in society and in urban governance and planning – gaining more attention over the last year as urban areas have been heavily impacted by the spread of COVID-19. We recognize the potential of the resilience framework and how this can assist cities to achieve their sustainable goals.

An interdisciplinary approach

Urban Resilience has a multidimensionality aspect to it. We have grouped together different aspects of resilience into different dimensions which has helped to identify many resources available to the urban community that need to be considered when discussing urban resilience.


The involvement of a diverse group of stakeholders and community members in the resilience debate builds trust within the community and share the responsibility of the city’s fate. Public-private partnerships are a fundamental aspect of the resilience process as they are thought to promote trust and to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the applied strategies.

Our definition of Urban Resilience

We drew from key researchers in numerous fields to propose a new interdisciplinary definition addressing both the internal and external hazards faced within an urban environment and the importance of stakeholders within the process. The definition aims to be comprehensive and conceptualize key terms, whilst allowing for the flexibility needed to apply to the diverse urban setting it is situated in.

Urban resilience refers to a multidimensional dynamic process between urban stakeholders aiming to prepare and adapt the urban environment to absorb and recover from external and internal disturbances reducing urban vulnerabilities and responding to local, national and global challenges to ensure the success of all the urban actors involved.

Looks into the social, political, economic and environmental factors

Includes the public, private, non-profit sectors, the policymakers, researchers and citizens

External & Internal Disturbances: Economic recessions, environmental degradation, civil unrest, technological incidents, public health crisis and natural disasters