This year’s theme for UN World Cities Day – building sustainable and resilient cities – holds enormous potential for urban areas across the globe. Visceral reminders of our generation’s greatest challenge are becoming more and more frequent; Hurricane Michael earlier this month being the most recent example.
Recent climate studies indicate we may soon hit a dire tipping point in global warming, with far-reaching implications for our communities.
The concept of urban resilience is gaining in popularity, though the hard work still lies ahead. Funding models are varied in their scope and projected outcomes, best practices are emerging and evolving, and measurable results are still being determined. Coordination on how to prepare communities for the next storm or shock will be key.
Whereas the conventional appeal is for higher walls, thicker concrete, and bigger barriers, it is essential to question the de facto response of creating an impenetrable line of defense. A resilience approach instead seeks to address the underlying challenges, designing systems that allow quick recovery back to normalcy following a shock – whether that’s a swift restoration of utility services or getting an assembly line back online.