T2.2: Spain & Barcelona Experience in Resilience

The second session on ‘Climate Resilience Governance and Planning’ focused on the city of Barcelona, Spain, examining through the use of different ‘hands-on’ analysis to determine the extent to which resilience was present and successful in the city, and in one instance nationally.

The session began with an assessment of how resilience implementation does or does not exist within the legislative framework, followed by a comparative analysis of resilience frameworks in Barcelona to other cities in Spain. The presentations then proceeded to focus solely on the city of Barcelona by examining the metropolitan area of the city as a ‘benchmark’ for city resilience and then identifying an existing population vulnerability that still needs to be addressed. Finally, the session concluded with a case study example of the concept of resilience implemented at the community scale through the reuse of existing building infrastructure. 

By focusing mostly on the city of Barcelona, the different presenters have demonstrated different ways in which the concept of urban resilience has been integrated into the city’s governing framework and implementation strategies. Although Barcelona as a city has demonstrated leadership in its adaptation plans regarding resources, MER and adaptation management, it nonetheless presently needs to deal with the gaps and inconsistency of regional wide urban resilience strategies. There is a need for a more comprehensive plan throughout the metropolitan region that can be supported from a top-down approach financially and through regulatory enforcement, whereby resilience and its strategies should be reframed  with a more ‘modernized’ framework that includes issues other than natural disaster and climate change as well more pressing topics such as inequality. Furthermore, continued support of bottom-up strategies that continue to foster community based initiatives and plans is important to Barcelona’s continued development of urban resilience. Mechanism for how both bottom-up and top-down strategies can be synchronised and work together will be important in the city’s future plans for urban resilience. 

Urban resilience in Spanish legislative and regulatory framework
Ana Díez Bermejo, Ana Sanz Fernández, Agustín Hernández Aja

Ana Sanz Fernandez in Urban Resilience in Spanish Legislative & Regulatory Framework presented the results of the analytical research done to determine to which extent resilience exists within the legislative and governing framework of the city of Barcelona. The issue raised is not whether resilience as a concept exists but if and how it is implemented in the administrative structure and urban planning system. This was examined by thorough analysis of key terms in legal documents  of governing bodies in the city. The results of the research identified that the concept of resilience was incorporated starting in 2006, with dulls along the years, and an increased relevance around 2013. Its presence in legal documents was mostly in conjunction with other concepts such as climate change and natural disasters, vaguely under the pretext of goals, and lacking in a developed understanding of the theory in connection to other topics such as the Urban Agenda.  The results found through Fernandez’s analytical research is exemplary of the gap in how a city may claim to address the issue of resilience as a goal to aspire to without designing the legislative implementation framework that would allow such a goal to be fully achieved. There is a lack of confluence between academic and scientific discourse on the urban resilience and its application in Spanish legal framework, which Fernandez proposes can be overcome with a broadening of legal framework to ease the implementation of policies towards resilience – how that can be achieved necessitates further research. 

Are Spanish local adaptation policies likely to be successfully implemented and sustained in the long-term? An assessment of their legitimacy, scientific, policy and economic credibility.
Elisa Sainz de Murieta, Estíbaliz Sanz, Marta Olazabal

Through the project research of PROCESA, Marta Olazabal examined to what extent adaptation planning is taking place in Spain by examining the only 11 cities that have major adaptation plans in place. The Olazabal et al. adaptation policy credibility (APC) assessment tool was used as a guideline to evaluate adaptation planning and long-term institutional capacity building for the selected 11 cities. The APC included seven components and fifty-four metrics that fell under three major areas: political and economic credibility, scientific and learning credibility and legitimacy. The results of this analysis showed that cities like San Sebastian, Guadalajara and Valencia are at the forefront when examining the three major areas of analysis. Comparatively, a closer analysis of the seven components  such as Resources, Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting (MER), and Adaptive Management, demonstrates that cities of Cordoba, Barcelona and Murcia are the leading cities. While the results show that some cities may be more successful in their adaptation plans at the larger scale, some cities have thrived by focusing on specific targets in their adaptation plan strategies. A city like Barcelona does not have an overall strong adaptation plan addressing all of the determined seven components, but it nonetheless is leading in resources, MER and adaptive management strategies. There is a need for major national and regional governments to support capital cities through financial and technical support as well as regulation enforcement to promote a more cohesive national and city wide comprehensive strategy. With this, the issue of equity and justice also needs to be brought forward to be incorporated in adaptation plans.

Legacies and Tensions while Building Urban Resilience: Exploring Urban Plans in Barcelona and its Metropolitan Region,
Mar Grau-Satorras, Hug March, Isabel Ruiz-Mallén

In Legacies and Tensions while Building Urban Resilience: Exploring Urban Plans in Barcelona and its Metropolitan Region, Hug March presented the ongoing research on how different agendas transmit and shape ideas and practices of urban resilience; the interplay between international and local resilience-building efforts and identifying the potential elements of consensus or dissensus in how to design and implement urban resilience. Barcelona was used as the example of a benchmark city that began to embed resilience strategies in 2008 through the Covenant of Mayors which led to Pla d’Energia and Canvi Climatic Actions. Bottom-up strategies of participatory work towards co-production of policies helped develop the urban climate resilience agenda, while top-down processes with stakeholders like utility companies addressed multi-hazard urban resilience. All plans acknowledge the importance of resilience to varying degrees and it was through the action of legislation and strategies that resilience was ‘metropolitanized’ to the surrounding areas of the city. Cities in the metropolitan area have unfolded local adaptation plans for resilience while others are working with urban resilience with the perspective of a multi-hazard approach or with other concepts like that of the ‘smart city’. Cities on the outskirts of Barcelona are using the concept of urban resilience through European grants in smaller rural parts. Review of the regional and metropolitan plans of the many surrounding cities of Barcelona demonstrates the complexity in articulating the concept of resilience at the metropolitan scale, as some municipalities use more climate-oriented resilience while other focus on multi-hazard or mixed approach strategies. With this, the multiple approaches to urban resilience raise the possible implication and tensions between the bottom-up and top-down approach, if they can be combined and in which way such approaches can articulate with local politics.

Social vulnerability and coastal hazards: Acknowledging floating population needs in Barcelona, Spain
Aysun Koroglu Dogan, Lina Taing, Chris Zevenbergen

Aysu Korugu Dogan in Social vulnerability and coastal hazards: Acknowledging floating population needs in Barcelona, Spain, examined and identified a population’s inability to cope with adverse impacts of natural or man made disasters. In particular, Dogan identified the most vulnerable group as the ‘floating population’, of which there are thirty-five million a year as tourists. Barcelona is facing increasing socio and economic threats because of rising number of flash floods in coastal areas of which there was a twenty-five percent increase in the past few years. In analysing and then identifying the socioeconomic and demographic data that has  come of hazards, the attributes that make people vulnerable can be identified to help build the support structures and facilities for mitigation and recovery. The Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) was used to map and classify vulnerabilities in eleven main categories which include housing, age, race, education, and family structure. The results demonstrated Barcelona’s coastal area as particularly vulnerable to hazards, with the floating population being most vulnerable. With this, public emergency services for example should be accounting for needs of such vulnerable groups in disaster risk reduction strategies by using the SVI maps to inform how finances and services should be spatially distributed based on risk.

Can Fugarolas: A Story Of Urban Resilience
Diego Saez, Pere Fuertes

Diego Saez presented a different perspective on urban resilience by examining a building case study example of Can Fugarolas: A Story Of Urban Resilience in the city of Mataro, north of Barcelona. The socio economic conditions of the city include high unemployment and low housing construction rates. Cronopios Circus company saw an opportunity of rehabilitation for the community and the city as an engine for social and cultural participation through the building Can Fugarolas, what was once an old car dealership.  The rehabilitation project examined the complexities of different urban systems as adaptive means with regards to urban planning, cultural facilities, physical support and activity. The objective was to create a sustainable multi-disciplinary space that ecompasses differents types of arts, social projects and nurseries for social, sustainable and cultural companies. Through participatory group effort, the building was restored as different spaces serving different needs including artist in residence studios and a circus training gym. Different implementation strategies to transform the building including administrative, social and functional led to the legalization and specialization of the once empty building as a reserve for present and future needs. The project became symbolic of what Diego describes as the embedded resilience that the built heritage constitutes, particularly in its capacity to host different urban dynamics while formally and functionally accommodating, transforming and adapting.