March 15, 2022

Sustainability Series 10: Resilience Planning

This week we are following up on the anticipatory competency of sustainability with an application: resilience planning. Resilience planning is preparing a system to survive, adapt, and grow in the face of acute shocks and chronic stresses. This can be applied in many contexts. Businesses engage in resilience planning around markets and competitors. Families do resilience planning when they manage their finances and set up a “rainy day fund.” And perhaps most importantly in the context of sustainability, cities engage in resilience planning around issues like demographic shifts and climate change.

Urban Resilience Planning

Resilience planning takes urban areas from reactive to proactive, so that no matter what challenge arises (from nature or from man) there are systems in place to address it. Cities in Asia are among some of the most stressed in the world, due to a rapidly growing population, already severe impacts of climate change, and under-development of critical infrastructure. The Asian Development Bank has identified seven entry points for building more resilient cities.

  1. Climate information and urban growth data: Good information on risks and human exposure is essential to making the best decisions.
  2. Urban planning: Resilient planning is informed by good data, integrated across sectors and scales, and is iterative and inclusive of all society’s groups.
  3. Infrastructure and services: Public services need to be made robust to the multiplicative effect of climate change upon chronic stressors such as overpopulation and urban poverty.
  4. Institutional capacity: Government officials need to understand how to assess and address risk and identify pathways of impact.
  5. Community development: Everyone, especially the poor and vulnerable, should have tools for understanding their own vulnerabilities and support in building resilience to them.
  6. Private sector: Privately held businesses can provide urban lifeline utilities through public-private partnerships; such as communication, energy, transportation, and water.
  7. Catalyzing finance: Building resilience requires money, and cities should look for innovative ways to access necessary funds.

Why Resilience Planning?

At CIRT, we are part of building resilience for cities across America (see #6 Private sector, above). The mobilization of debris during severe weather events can harm humans and the environment both during the weather event and in the months and years following. In addition to harm caused by physical impacts (air borne debris, clogging and blockages, etc.) there are also chemical contamination that can occur from mobilization of debris, for example into sources of drinking water or delicate ecosystems. CIRT is a member of the private sector that frequently partners with public organizations to reduce debris in the environment. Through this work we engage with communities in resilience planning, anticipating a more sustainable future.