Helping cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social, and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century.

Barcelona, Spain Photo: Alan Merrion

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Defining urban resilience

Resilience is about surviving and thriving, regardless of the challenge.

Urban resilience is the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience.


weaken the fabric of a city on a day-to-day or cyclical basis

Examples include: high unemployment, inefficient public transportation systems, endemic violence, and chronic food and water shortages.


are sudden, sharp events that threaten a city

Examples include: earthquakes, floods, disease outbreaks, and terrorist attacks.

Mexico City, Mexico Photo: Lars Plougmann
Vejle, Denmark Photo: Mikkel Rask
New York City, United States Photo: ais3n

Resilient cities demonstrate seven qualities that allow them to withstand, respond to, and adapt more readily to shocks and stresses.

Lisbon, Portugal Photo: MGKM Photography


using past experience to inform future decisions


recognizing alternative ways to use resources
Barcelona, Spain Photo: Riccardo Romano


well-conceived, constructed, and managed systems


spare capacity purposively created to accommodate disruption


willingness and ability to adopt alternative strategies in response to changing circumstances
Semarang, Indonesia Photo: NSeika


prioritize broad consultation to create a sense of shared ownership in decision making


bring together a range of distinct systems and institutions
Durban, South Africa
Durban, South Africa Photo: Diriye Amey

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