The session included a diverse range of takes on resilience. Some presentations tackled specific aspects of resilience such a climate adaptation and mitigation (Haupt, Chelleri), emergency frameworks (Lanelis, Ruchinskaya), or environmental governance (Foo), while others included resilience as part of their approach to larger issues of environmental justice, benefits of nature exposure and smart solutions/digitalization (Barthel).
The subsequent discussion focused on the risks of technology, such as the increasing consumption of energy of technologies, the concentration of power and influence in a small number of technology companies, and the risk of disinformation and manipulation of public sentiment. The risk of bringing standards and assumptions of the global north to global south cities through learning exchanges, resiliency networks and other global programs was also highlighted, noting the possibility of specific agendas/interests influencing the kind of solutions that are promoted through these networks.
The presentation discussed to what extend city-to-city learning exchanges contribute to implementation of resiliency policies and programs, particularly in the context of climate adaptation and mitigation. Through a review of different networks and cities, and a particular study/survey of exchanges supported by Eurocities’ Twinning Programme, the authors found that: 1) these programs increase credibility of ideas or policies within a municipal administration; 2) they are used as strategic instruments by mentor cities; 3) only lead to substantial learning results in the learning city but not so much in the mentor city; 4) only under certain conditions lead to policy adoption in a learning city. In regards to this last point, the study identified that peer cities should not be too different to each other (in terms of size, capacity, institutional, context, adaptation challenges), and that transnational learning requires understanding the different context of cities and takes time. As such, the researchers raised questions about how the learnings of pioneering cities can be effectively transferred to other smaller cities without similar resources, and suggested that exchanges involving peer-learning between similar cities can be more effective than mentoring exchanges among cities with very different capabilities.
This presentation started from a critical view of assumptions made around resiliency practice and research worldwide, which is often built on democratic ideals of participation, government proceedings and data-driven decision-making, whereas the reality in the governance of many cities is far from this. The empirical research identified the flow of information and voices between decision makers and citizens as critical aspects where accountability sabotage can occur, and highlighted the importance of raising the resilience of urban & regional economies, as well as the resilience of urban institutions and governance frameworks. A key challenged mentioned by the researcher is the need to disaggregate systems thinking, in order to study the actors, networks and relationships, as well as the different framings and narratives differents actors bring.
The presentation looked at the function of public spaces for building urban resilience, particularly in the aspects of emergency and adaptation to risk. Through a case study of Volos (Greece), the study aims to argue that Blockchain has the capacity to facilitating the strengthening of the adaptation capacity of public spaces. It pointed out that current plans focus only on Earthquake risks, omitting climate change adaptation, flood risk and other threats, and fail to provide an adequate, equitable or flexible response. It also identified the lack of criteria for the selection of safe, diverse, accessible and multi-functional evacuation places. Following a review of the lack of resiience adaptation capacity of public spaces, the presenter jumped to the claim that Blockchain’s decentralized nature (compared to regular IT systems) can provide a resilient technological platform to build the city’s public spaces’ adaptation capacity.
The presentation made a strong case for the health and social benefits provide by nature exposure and nature experiences. It then highlighted the risk that digitalization and the implementation of smart city models can have in terms of a decrease of social interactions, affecting social capital, sense-of-place and exacerbating digital divides and exclusion, as well as a decrease in human-nature connections and the health benefits associated with it. However, it also recognize the innovative use of big spatial data to identify gaps and environmental inequity, facilitating the equitable distribution of green spaces and other nature based solutions.