Key concepts

What is resilience?

Over the last few years, the risk topic related to responsibility and resilience has achieved significant attention on the international stage. There is a growing recognition that different types of risks – climate change, disasters, global shocks, and other risk factors such as urbanisation and ageing populations - are inter-connected. Working in silos no longer makes sense and to deal with these risks research institutions, stakeholders, public authorities need to work more closely. This assumption is the starting point of R3C idea, namely strengthening, gathering and merging together the highly qualified scientific skills and technological equipment available within the Politecnico to better hold the comprehensive knowledge of risks and vulnerabilities concerning territorial systems.

The resilient perspective for territorial government

If we look with a critical eye at resilience bearing in mind its interconnection with urban and territorial planning we discover that the existing scientific literature and some practical experiences seem to investigate resilience using the paradigm of an “umbrella” which includes multidisciplinary approaches and broad concepts or ambiguous definitions. At the same time, this is a strength because the debate around resilience attracts many interpretations by a meaningful metaphor that includes new analytical, interpretative and representation models of territorial dynamics to generate innovations on spatial policies, addressing global changes.

From the most convincing definitions of territorial resilience come key concepts emerges highlighting the urban planning approach to resilience: i) the co-evolutive perspective of territorial systems; ii) the holistic approach to planning systemic resilience. Resilience is a “driver” to steer the change in perspective of policies and practices of institutions, organisations and social networks adopting a multi-scalar, adaptive vision for a long-term scenario.

In our vision, resilience is a metaphor to apply an innovative approach to the territorial governance that follows the definition expressed by Simin Davoudi et Al. (2012). Resilience is a challenging issue for territorial planning because is a process rather than a product of the system. The resilience is the capacity of an urban system (including all socio-ecologic and technical components) to maintain or restore its basic functions after internal or external stress, adapting and transforming itself into a new dynamic.

Assuming this perspective, the relevant characters of a resilient system are learning capacity, robustness, innovation capacity, adaptation capacity, thus to overcome the “single-state equilibrium” to forward a “dynamic non-equilibrium” where uncertainties are assumed as innovating factors.

Such an approach require a “state of equilibrium” composed by an evolutionary phase of growthspecializationcollapsere-organisation. A similar perspective was adopted by the economist Schumpeter: the collapse (creative destruction) of a system is the emerging factor of a new economic re-assessment. From an ecologic perspective, this concept is defined “panarchy” that is composed of four cycles: growth, specialization, collapse and re-organization.

These visions pose two crucial conditions for territorial planning: the conservation of a memory of the system and the evolutionary capacity with fluid dynamics of the short, medium and long period. Planning for resilience requires integrated actions that assumes governance innovations for communities including adaptive learning, robustness, adapting capacity and innovation.

How to measure resilience?

Measurement is a prerequisite for the holistic knowledge of spatial dynamics. In the international debate, resilience measurement approaches have been proposed for the assessment, planning and follow up of resilience development. But, the developed methods of resilient metrics are set indicators of what is easy to measure rather than what is important. An interest of R3C is to collect and discuss on interdisciplinary contributions that explore three main topics closely linked to measuring resilience: (i) theoretical perspectives of measuring spatial resilience; (ii) models and methods for measuring spatial resilience; and (iii) role of measuring spatial resilience to operationalise the ability to adapt, recover and benefit of shocks. We are particularly interested in work that addresses one or more of the previous issues through either new conceptual formulations or case-study approaches, including qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods.

To address this issue, the Centre will work publishing in relevant scientific journals and collecting manuscripts and information provided by different sources (e.g. peer review journals, scientific books, research data, presentations, reports, conference proceedings and relevant websites).