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Standardised indicators for “resilient cities”: the folly of devising a technical solution to a political problem
Driven by the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, decision makers have been striving to reorientate policy debates towards the aspiration of achieving urban resilience and monitoring the effectiveness of adaptive measures through the implementation of standardised indicators. Consequently, there has been a rise of indicator systems measuring resilience. This paper aims to argue that the ambition of making cities resilient does not always make them less vulnerable, more habitable, equitable and just.
Using an inductive policy analysis of ISO standard 37123:2019 “Sustainable cities and communities — Indicators for resilient cities”, the authors examine the extent to which the root causes of risks are being addressed by the urban resilience agenda.
The authors show that the current standardisation of resilience fails to adequately address the political dimension of disaster risk reduction, reducing resilience to a management tool and missing the opportunity to address the socio-political sources of risks.
Such critical analysis of the Standard is important as it moves away from a hazard-centric approach and, instead, permits to shed light on the socio-political processes of risk creation and to adopt a more nuanced and sensitive understanding of urban characteristics and governance mechanisms.
Author affiliationSchool of Business, University of Leicester
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