What Should Be the Disaster Resilient City

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Table of Contents

  • From a Resilience Theory Perspective, in What Ways Can a City’s Resilience to Disasters be Defined and Measured?
  • What are the Risks in Applying Resilience Thinking to Cities?
  • In What Ways Might a Vulnerability Framework Help Navigate These Risks?

From a Resilience Theory Perspective, in What Ways Can a City’s Resilience to Disasters be Defined and Measured?

Nowadays, cities need a new approach to remain protected from various disasters. Many scholars perceive the resilience theory is capable to help perform this task. According to Miller et al. (2010), such factors as an organisation, social engagement, leadership and continuous self-education belong to the list of elements collaborating with the resilience theory. To understand this concept, the authors list examples where the flexible thinking might be helpful to detect potential risks for cities.

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The first example is about avoiding disastrous issues in the future. Miller et al. (2010) suggest transforming the swamps into an improved socio-ecological condition in South Sweden, involving guidance, vision and structuring. Further, it is crucial to implement wisely the specified and general resilience (Miller et al., 2010). One should involve the specified elasticity to assess the risks of changing the flexibility of one factor to another, such as how the amount of grass for cattle and the blaze risk relate (Miller et al., 2010).

Somewhat different is a general resilience. It has its aim to consider the unexpected risks, such as the situation when rains reduce and salinity level changes (Miller et al., 2010). Therefore, there arises a need in managers who would combine these approaches and analyse the outcomes. The stability of certain social and economic states boosts positive outcomes for cities, such as the case of southern Africa, which succeeded to speed up technological progress, reduce penury and so on (Miller et al., 2010). As Miller et al. (2010) argue, the processes of “social learning and communication” between various institutional indicators, reformation of communities, and the skills to adapt when creating general resilience of the marginal population to the changes in climate are crucial (Miller et al., 2010: np). Therefore, one should implement continuous learning, cooperation, socio-economic stability, specified and general resilience to detect threats for cities.

What are the Risks in Applying Resilience Thinking to Cities?

There are certain risks when applying a resilience-oriented approach to cities. First, resilience thinking is more of a flexibility to approach problems. In case of the United Kingdom, the diagrams have shown the British community experiences pressure and a lack of flexibility when the government passes some part of the responsibility for their lives to them (Davoudi et al., 2012). According to Davoudi et al. (2012), growing resilience for the one stratum of the population or some places reduces it for the other ones. Therefore, implementing flexible thinking has certain difficulties.

Furthermore, it is necessary to differentiate between the types of the resilience thinking. As Davoudi et al. (2012) state, socio-ecological resilience, called evolutionary in other words, means the whole system has to modify itself, change and propose answers to the mental and other stimuli. This idea stands in contradiction to the one where the subject has to return to the primary state after the influence of certain natural factors as fast as possible, as the engineering resilience describes (Davoudi et al., 2012). The ecological resilience considers when the number of stimuli is overmuch or not for the system to remain stable (Davoudi et al., 2012). Keeping that in mind, while scholars consider the revolutionary resilience as a progressive approach, it is still an unfinished, more theoretical than practical in its core meaning. As Davoudi et al. (2012) mention, the most illustrative example of achieving resilience through the equilibrium is the Charter of Athens, which aimed to achieve the democracy in every sphere of the city. If considering the examples of houses or bridges, to build a certain physical object, it should be good-looking, safe, occupy little space and so on and satisfy everyone’s needs, which is impossible even with the help of social agreement being a utopian idea. Therefore, the resilience thinking approach applied to a city carries the risks of an unrealistic embodiment; moreover, it takes responsibility from certain subjects and passes it to the other ones, making it hard to find a golden medium.

In What Ways Might a Vulnerability Framework Help Navigate These Risks?

Vulnerability, if applied together with the resilience theory, may help benefit the latter one in many spheres. As Miller et al. (2010) states, vulnerability and resilience approaches are somewhat different when somebody applies them to the real-life problems. The flexible method helps to interpret the system changes and interdependencies, the thresholds in the ecological sphere, social-ecological interconnections and so on better (Miller et al., 2010). However, the vulnerability approach looks at one segment of the analysis, like the human-environment connection or group with a society and other segments (Miller et al., 2010). Therefore, it may seem these approaches are contradictory.

Nevertheless, one should note how these frameworks benefit from each other. An “actor-oriented view” as proposed by the weakness framework, helps to consider the interests, key individual differences in skills and actor’s means they apply (Miller et al., 2010). Moreover, according to Miller et al. (2010), this, in turn, allows discovering the problems of power, modification in society and certain misunderstandings. While the mentioned elements is not a central focus of the resilience framework, this type of approach marginally considers them in the question of management of controlling resources and ecosystem attendance in the various changing types of landscapes (Miller et al., 2010). While some may argue both processes are contradictory, they perceive the same goal of focusing on fast and slow changes (Miller et al., 2010). Moreover, as the authors argue, the resilience framework, which has an aim to delouse upcoming stability, does not function without comprehending the socio-political movements and links to nature that lie at the basis of the vulnerability framework (Miler et al., 2010). Notwithstanding different misunderstandings between the resilience and vulnerability ideas within the groups of scholars belonging to them, both communities have begun to cooperate (Miller et al., 2010), which should benefit to cover the resilience theory failures. Moreover, resilience and vulnerability, from the other point of view, do not stand on the opposite sides, but are the part of each other, and, as Miller et al. (2010) argues, something can possess high stability, but worse sensitivity and exposure, and, thus, may have threats to its vulnerability. Therefore, the resilience and vulnerability frameworks, though somewhat different in their methods, complement each other.

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