Working together to make European cities more resilient

Seven European cities are making urban life a little less risky - building up their resilience to disasters and hazards.

Let’s face it, city life can be dangerous. The ever-present risk of parking tickets aside, there are very serious and more high-level dangers to deal with; hazards and disasters such as riots, floods, communication outages, critical infrastructure failures but also more abstract ones such as poverty or uncontrolled immigration.

Working together

Seven European cities set out to find resilience tools and guidelines that help cities to resist, absorb, adapt to and recover once things go south. They partnered with four universities, ICLEI - a global network of local and regional governments committed to sustainable urban development – and the German standards organization DIN to form a research consortium that initiated a project under the Framework Programme Horizon 2020, the largest research funding programme from the European Commission.

Best practices

In workshops, interviews and literature studies the consortium gathered insights and experiences from authorities, planning entities and policy institutions. The common goal: define best practices that are valuable to all European cities. Not the easiest task, because the inherent differences between cities, from infrastructure to social dynamics means that there’s not one single “correct” approach.

“The standardization of the maturity model enables us, cities, to have a standard tool to measure in which level we are in making our cities resilient”

Anne Charlotte Petersen,

 Municipality of Vejle,

Project partner of SMR

Defining new standards

The standardization activities within the project helped make the research results accessible to a wider audience, connecting similar city resilience related initiatives and external parties. Some of the tools developed in the process ended up being new standards themselves.

Road to change

There’s little doubt that cities need to grow more resilient, facing growing threats such as climate change and shifting social dynamics. Local change, fostered by mature resilient cities, is a great way to make certain we’re ready to face the challenges of an uncertain future. Standards will help policy makers, researchers and citizens find a common road to change.

What are resilient cities?

Resilient cities combine digital technologies, smart decision-making processes and state-of-the-art infrastructure solutions to protect their citizens. Resilience, in this context, means a capacity to deal with not just the shocks, such as earthquakes, fires, floods, etc., but also the stresses that weaken the fabric of a city daily, such as unemployment, an overtaxed infrastructure or violence. There’s no surefire way to become a resilient city, but the standards produced in this project give valuable pointers and ways to assess the resilience of your city.

Further Readings

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