Monday, March 21, 2011

Urban Resilience: Research Prospectus, A Resilience Alliance Initiative for Transitioning Urban Systems towards Sustainable Futures

by CSIRO, Australia –– Arizona State University, USA –– Stockholm University, Sweden
Urbanisation is a complex dynamic process playing out over multiple scales of space and time (Alberti et al 2003). It is both a social phenomenon and physical transformation of landscapes that is now clearly at the forefront of defining humanity’s relationship with the biosphere (IHDP 2005). Urban landscapes represent probably the most complex mosaic of land cover and multiple land uses of any landscape and as such provide important large-scale probing experiments of the effects of global change on ecosystems (e.g. global warming and increased nitrogen deposition). Urbanisation and urban landscapes have recently been identified by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment as research areas where significant knowledge gaps exist (McGranahan et al. 2005).
This Research Prospectus provides our response to this opportunity for integrated urban science, outlining a new and exciting research effort within the Resilience Alliance that will generate the scientific basis needed by urban managers to formulate positive strategies for their urban futures. Organised around four core themes of research – metabolic flows, social dynamics, governance networks, and built environment – our approach will be informed by selected urban case studies.
The aim of the Research Prospectus is to prioritise urban resilience research over the next 3-5 years on the major challenges facing urban systems. It provides a framework for science organisation and delivery that will help us to connect with different urban research groups and expertise, as well as provide a platform for engaging with related global initiatives. It represents the product of several opportunistic meetings of like-minded urban researchers over the past three years – Stockholm, Sweden (2003), Canberra, Australia (2004), and Gothenburg, Sweden (2005) – and a vehicle for moving these emerging urban resilience concepts and research ideas forward.

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