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Aligning Resilience and Sustainability for a better urban future – Lorenzo Chelleri, Urban Resilience Research Network

By on September 29, 2016
Lecturer - profile

Lorenzo Chelleri

Chair- Ph.D

Main affiliation
Urban Resilience Research Network



European Union



Lorenzo is Chair and founder member of the international network Urban Resilience Research, lecturer at the International University of Catalonia and Research Fellow at the Gran Sasso Science Institute. He has been working for the European Environment Agency (EEA) and conducting research in Mexico, Bolivia, Morocco, Europe, Singapore, Seoul and Taiwan. Authoring 25+ scientific papers in the last 5 years, Editor and regular contributors for different prestigious international blogs (URNet, AESOP YA, TNOC, UGEC), his works on urban resilience have been cited from the Rockefeller’s 100 Resilient cities initiative, awarded from the International Institute for Environmental Development (IIED) and thus contributing (and providing a critical perspective) to the advances of urban resilience theory and practices.

English Proficiency

Previous experience of recording video lectures

Experience of lecturing to large audiences

Experience of lecturing to large audiences

Frequency of lectures

Recording opportunities
Habitat III attendance and availability
16-19 October included


Main themes
Urban Infrastructure
Sustainable Cities
Social Inclusion

Aligning Resilience and Sustainability for a better urban future

This talk is about the challenges of aligning resilience and sustainability in practice, maximizing the synergies and avoiding trade-offs between those two guiding principles when framing urban governance and policies for a better urban future.

Issues which the lecture addresses
The lecture is grounded on emerging concerns about possible trade-offs between urban resilience and sustainability, in the light of many cases in which resilience per se, or sustainability per se are not able to address in an integrated and socially inclusive way what the urban sustainable development goal and the New Urban Agenda are calling for.

Short analysis of the above issues
We are used to see resilience and sustainability as normative and positive concepts. However, this talk present a set of study cases in which certain policies and practices promoting sustainability and resilience result in unexpected and undesirable consequences. The operationalization of sustainability can indeed be problematic, inducing green-washing strategies or green-induced gentrifications. At the same time, business as usual applications of resilience can lead to lock-in the system within current unsustainable urban patterns of development, contributing to increase robustness in cities, and not promoting their transformation. This talk explores through evidences from Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe the potential negative implications and trade-offs between resilience and sustainability, supporting a new way to align the two concepts.

Propositions for addressing the issue
Lorenzo Chelleri illustrates emerging trade-offs and potential synergies between resilience and sustainability by:
– Highlighting the limits of urban sustainability conceived as urban greening (examples from Asian cities eco-cities and urban renewal programs)
– Exploring the paradoxes of resilience building per se (showing how risk reduction strategies could have spatial and temporal scales trade-offs, either generating false safety perceptions while mainstreaming current urban development practices. Examples from Africa and Europe)
– Introducing a new way of enhancing potential synergies between resilience and sustainability through decentralized and governance based approaches (examples enabling urban poor in Mexico City to transition toward urban decentralized water management, and Barcelona governance model for urban resilience inspiring cross-sectoral and cross-institutional boundaries collaborations)

Additional Reading Materials
For further (and background) information see:
The freely downloadable book “Chelleri L and Olazabal M (2012) “Multidisciplinary perspectives on Urban Resilience” BC3, Biblao, which introduced the need of broadening the mission and objectives of urban resilience toward sustainability
The paper Schuetze, T. and Chelleri, L. (2015) “Urban Sustainability Versus Green-Washing—Fallacy and Reality of Urban Regeneration in Downtown Seoul”, Sustainability Journal, which introduced urban greening fallacies
The paper Chelleri L et al (2014) “Responses to Drought and Desertification in the Moroccan Drâa Valley Region: Resilience at the Expense of Sustainability?” International journal of Climate Change Impacts and Responses, which explored the linkages between sustainability and resilience
The paper awarded from the International Institute of Environment and Development and open access Chelleri et al (2015) “Resilience trade-offs: addressing multiple scales and temporal aspects of urban resilience” Environment and Urbanization Journal, is the first paper introducing the concept of Urban Resilience trade-offs through case studies
The paper Chelleri, L., Schuetze, T and Salvati, L. (2015) “Integrating resilience with urban sustainability in neglected neighborhoods: Challenges and opportunities of transitioning to decentralized water management in Mexico City” Habitat International Journal, which introduced the technical feasibility of transitioning toward decentralized water management in a deprived Mexico City neighbourhood.
Finally, accessing the web “Urban Resilience Research Network” which Lorenzo Chelleri is chairing, readers can get the access to the latest essays and challenges in urban resilience research and practices.