Cities and Resilience

Cities are the economic, social and innovative core of Europe, generating the majority of the countries’ revenues and home to the majority of Europe’s population. As cities continue to grow, their role in Europe’s social and environmental systems becomes ever more crucial. This trend is set to increase in the coming decades.  

 

Preparing for change

With such a concentration of key assets condensed into small areas, the significance of preparing cities for unexpected challenges and crises becomes increasingly evident. While natural disasters have always been a risk to cities, the economic and societal costs of extreme weather events in urban areas have been steadily increasing in recent decades and will continue to increase as cities continue to grow. 

This is also due to the fact that extreme weather events resulting from climate change have become more frequent, more intense and are projected to further increase in the future, posing unprecedented threats to cities.

Adapting together

Traditionally, climate change adaptation strategies have been tailored to specific local contexts. As each city has a unique set of needs, vulnerabilities and characteristics, it is difficult to identify one-size-fits-all adaptation measures. However, crises in European cities resulting from extreme weather events inevitably affect not only the location in which the event took place, but have a cascading effect in neighbouring cities and regions, as well as on markets and commerce, with consequences spreading far beyond city borders. 

Common challenges, common solutions 

It is mutually beneficial for cities to support one another in their resilience development and it is efficient for any accumulated knowledge to contribute to practices elsewhere. Furthermore, many of the challenges cities face are shared, such as rising temperatures and increasing rainfall, and many existing characteristics and patterns are also shared, such as types of architecture, building materials, citizens’ use of utilities, construction trends and changing populations.