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Planetary urban resilience?


“An international comparison study of hazard resilient cities: From risk evaluation to developing pathways” , funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology in China,

Partners: Hunan University, China:  University of Manchester UK, Cardiff University UK, University of Illinois USA


Workshop 1: ‘Planetary urbanist resilience?’ 

hybrid event on May 25th 2023, 1300  BST.  Register here.

The ‘resilient city’ is urgent and topical – extreme flooding in China and Germany – extreme wildfires in USA and Australia – extreme drought and famine in East Africa. With the China-UK project on International Resilient Cities, in conjunction with UN Habitat, we bring new methods of risk / resilience analysis, to look beyond the city limits at whole urban / peri-urban linkages, tipping points and pathways for resilience.



The ‘resilient city’ has become the focus of current research on disaster prevention and mitigation and urban safety construction.

The frequent occurrence of major natural disasters and world-class public health emergencies of COVID-19 in recent years have made people realize more clearly that cities of the future, especially those with high-density development, are facing increasingly serious risks and challenges. For example, in 2020, the new coronary pneumonia caused 79,000 people to live in isolation tents in New York City alone [1] (as of October 2020), and the tropical cyclone in 2021 displaced more than 200,000 people in Gujarat, India. At the same time, the new coronary pneumonia and white fungus were superimposed of the spread, hospital beds are far from enough. The flood in Zhengzhou in 2021 caused emergency relocation of millions of people across the province, and over 400,000 flooded vehicles were waiting to be dealt with [2]. The tropical cyclone in the Philippines in 2019 caused 342,000 people to become homeless [3]. In this context, “building inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities and human settlements” was identified as an important global goal for 2030 by the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit (2015).

More than 70% of the cities and more than 50% of the population in China are located in areas with severe natural disasters such as meteorology, earthquakes, geology and oceans [4, 5]. In the “National Assessment Report on Management and Adaptation of Extreme Weather and Climate Events and Disaster Risks in China” issued by 12 government departments, including the National Health and Family Planning Commission, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Academy of Social Sciences and related universities, it is estimated that high temperature, floods and floods in China in the mid-21st century The risks of major disasters such as drought, landslides, debris flows, and earthquakes will increase significantly, and the risks will be superimposed and amplified with the benefits of high-density urban construction, agglomeration of economic development, aging population structure, and significant regional differences. 5, 6]. In this context, President Xi proposed in his report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China to “establish the concept of safe development and promote the idea of ​​life first and safety first”.

It can be seen from the above-mentioned domestic and foreign strategic goals that urban security has become an important issue to be solved urgently in the future. However, disasters and security events have the characteristics of unknown, rare, uncertain and small probability, and the complexity of the city determines that this problem is a comprehensive regional planning, environmental science, engineering, ecology, geography Systematic research in many fields such as public administration and policy research. The concept of resilient city has been widely used in the study of coping strategies of urban systems in the face of unpredictable future acute shocks and chronic pressures due to its connotative characteristics such as dynamics, co-evolution, and “returning to a better state”. The current research focus of disaster prevention and mitigation and urban safety construction. Therefore, the “China Emergency Management Innovation Forum” held in China in 2017 put forward the forward-looking and innovative requirements of “accelerating the construction of a compact urban safety system suitable for my country’s national conditions, and providing a Chinese version of the theoretical support for the internationally popular resilient cities”.


Under the test of the public health security incident of COVID-19, many cities in China have shown resilience characteristics such as excellent response speed, anti-disturbance ability, self-organization ability, synergy and creativity. Existing research has not yet explained the underlying mechanism of urban resilience in China and how it is different from Western countries. Therefore, this research will contribute the literature of hazard resilient cities by comparing the experience and cases of urban systems in China and other countries, regarding their response in disasters and emergencies, and their various pathways from disaster risk assessment to resilience construction.



The overall goal of this project is to compare the differences in disaster risk assessment methods and resilience construction pathways between urban systems in China and other countries in the world, to analyze the deep impact mechanism of social, economic and institutional differences on the formation of urban resilience, and to summarize the experience of urban resilience in China.

The above objectives are planned to be accomplished in three phases. In the first phase, several case cities will be identified, and a comparative study plan will be conducted by collecting and analysing relevant policy documents and materials. In the second phase, a work camp is carried out to conduct in-depth horizontal comparative research between China and foreign countries, and to discuss typical case countries and city risk assessments Methods and resilience construction path. In the final phase, it will summarize the construction path of China’s resilient city, and conduct international knowledge exchanges.

Throughout the two years of the project schedule (2022-2023), collaborators from Manchester University, Cardiff University and the University of Illinois, Chicago will work together with the Chinese researchers (PI Jing Ran from Hunan University) to complete the comparison study of international experience in hazard resilient cities. The collaboration can be carried out in the form of online and offline meetings, lectures, consultations, and workshops.