Medium_optimized-20150916_100346 How Can Fairness And Inclusivity Be Embedded In Urban Resilience And Sustainability Strategies?

21 Jan 12:24

Paula Vandergert

TURAS analyses ways to embed social and environmental equity into urban resilience and sustainability strategies.

In an increasingly urbanized world, social inequalities, economic boom and bust, degraded environment, climate change and unsustainable resource use are all problems that are discussed in the urban context. In the face of these challenges, urban sustainability and resilience are emerging as twin goals, whereby policymakers are articulating visions for the way urban societies and places should be. Given the complexity of the urban context, how to deliver these visions remains a key governance challenge, particularly if social and environmental equity is to be achieved.

TURAS researchers from London, Dublin and Brussels have been addressing this challenge, by exploring the emerging concept of adaptive governance and how it can be strengthened to bring together multiple scales and institutions, facilitate a social-ecological-systems approach and embed social and environmental equity into visions of urban sustainability and resilience. Our innovative research proposes strengthening the institutional foundations of adaptive governance by blending concepts from institutional theory. In doing this we have addressed a gap in the adaptive governance literature regarding equitable outcomes by suggesting ways to explore power relations and environmental and social equity through a more politically nuanced analysis. Our findings have been published in the International Journal of Urban Sustainable Development in an article entitled Blending adaptive governance and institutional theory to explore urban resilience and sustainability strategies in the Rome metropolitan area, Italy

We use an innovative conceptual framework to explore urban sustainability and resilience strategies in the Rome Metropolitan Area, Italy. The cases we examine are two peri-urban agriculture initiatives and one cultural initiative in Bracciano, XIV Municipality and Manziana.
The three cases involve strategies to build local social and economic resilience and develop sustainable entrepreneurial activities. The strategies have emerged from a programme of work developed by TURAS partner BIC Lazio, the regional business innovation agency for the Lazio Region. This programme has sought to sustainably renovate locally significant former industrial buildings and sustainably develop under-used land through cultural and agricultural small business development. As part of TURAS research, we conducted interviews with key local and regional people, attended workshops and public events and analysed project documentation.

Workshop on the ecological agriculture site in the XIV Municipality.Image credit A. Hill

Our findings suggest that, by considering institutional challenges and barriers, it could be possible for the varied institutions involved in conceiving and implementing sustainable and resilient urban transition strategies to incorporate concepts of environmental and social equity that have resonance with people locally, including residents and local businesses. It would appear from our research that this local resonance, and building of a shared ideology, is a critical phase in developing urban resilience and sustainability strategies at the local level, yet it is a phase that is often overlooked. However, our research also suggests that local buy-in appears to be insufficient to overcome some of the institutional barriers that can be encountered. More strategic actors at regional levels, or institutional entrepreneurs, can identify appropriate processes to help overcome institutional challenges. These findings are applicable across towns and cities in Europe, and can help strengthen local governance processes.
The i-Agri site in Bracciano, Image,BIC Lazio
The i-Agri site in Bracciano, Image,BIC Lazio

Keywords: Adaptive governance, Urban resilience, Environmental and social equity,