Enhancing urban and infrastructure resilience
An institutional perspective
Their high population densities, architectural structures, economic importance and geographical location (for instance, on deltas) make cities particularly vulnerable
to various threats such as those deriving from climate change, terrorist attacks or natural hazards. Adding to their vulnerability is the risk of failures cascading through coupled infrastructure systems and across sectoral and territorial boundaries. So, city managers, urban planners and infrastructure providers increasingly have to plan for risk, crisis and uncertainty.
This study of the cities of Rotterdam in the Netherlands and Christchurch in New Zealand shows that cities are still institutionally ill equipped to significantly enhance their resilience – their capacities to resist, recover and adapt. The study reveals that adaptive and networked governance strategies to enhance resilience are often impeded by formal regulations, legislation, informal traditions and work routines, and the allocation of resources. These general framework conditions support developing knowledge on urban and infrastructure resilience in parallel and organising and keeping contingency and risk management in "silos" (i.e. within sectors and administrative areas); moreover, they hamper the sharing of knowledge and information between different governance levels.
The study's findings suggest that to overcome these problems, there should be formal legal reforms to complement informal approaches to stimulate adaptive and networked governance. Furthermore, national and regional governments should be more proactive in institutionalising urban and infrastructure resilience.
About the author
Andreas Huck was born in 1985 in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany. He is an urban researcher, sustainability enthusiast and PhD candidate at Technische Universität Darmstadt and Utrecht University. He is part of the DFG Research Training Group KRITIS in Darmstadt. Andreas obtained his bachelor's degree (BSc) in spatial planning from Technische Universität Kaiserslautern, Germany in 2010 and his master's degree (MSc) in Regional Studies: Spaces and Places, Analysis and Intervention (research) from the University of Groningen, The Netherlands in 2013. During his studies he concentrated on environmental and social sustainability from the perspectives of spatial planning and urban development. He took part in different exchange programmes, visiting other universities in Europe and the USA, and received several scholarships and awards for his research. Andreas has working experience outside academia in the field of future research and technology assessment as well in various EU-wide projects under the aegis of Climate-KIC, Europe's largest climate innovation network: that work related to urban transition management, city-to-city-learning and professional education and certification.