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Research Report

Building Resilience in Cities under Stress

Copyright Date: Jun. 1, 2016
Pages: 72

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. None)
  2. (pp. i-ii)
  3. (pp. iii-iv)
  4. (pp. 1-3)
    Andrea Ó Súilleabháin

    For the first time in history, more than half of the world’s people live in cities. By 2030, three-fifths of the world’s population will be urban, amounting to more than 5 billion people. The majority of this population growth will be in impoverished city neighborhoods, with the global population of city slums reaching 2 billion as soon as 2030. Alongside this unprecedented urbanization, urban fragility has emerged as a central challenge in global development, security, and governance theory and practice.

    The world has entered a new era of megacities and urban sprawl, unplanned and vast expansion of urban areas, and...

  5. (pp. 4-12)
    Apiwat Ratanawaraha

    As Bangkok continues to grow and modernize, the Southeast Asian megacity of more than 13 million residents has experienced a series of economic, environmental, and political shocks.¹ The financial crisis in the late 1990s hit the capital of Thailand hard, leaving many people jobless and a number of buildings with construction that remains incomplete to this day. The 2008 global financial crisis dented the otherwise relatively robust Thai economy; Thailand’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita dropped from $4,118 in 2008 to $3,979 in 2009.²

    Severe flooding in Thailand during the 2011 monsoon season lasted several months. Because Bangkok is...

  6. (pp. 13-23)
    Imtiaz Ahmed

    Dhaka remains an enigma. There is a mysterious side to its birth. The city’s name seems to derive from the temple of the “hidden goddess” Dhakeshwari, suggesting its remoteness and secretive origins. It was made remote by uninhabitable forests and countless waterways, which helped to protect its sanctity. Uncertainty exists as to when Dhaka came into being. Some estimates date it back 400 years, some 600, and some even take the birth of the city as far back as the sixth century.¹ The city attained some distinction in the seventeenth century during the Mughal era when it became the capital...

  7. (pp. 24-37)
    Chandrani Sarma and Amitendu Palit

    Mumbai is one of the biggest manifestations of urban fragility in the modern world. Its various fragilities are compounded by characteristics stemming from its geography and history. Covering an area of 480.24 square kilometers and built out of seven islands merged into one, Mumbai is the largest and second most populous city in India and the sixth most populous in the world.¹ It is estimated that by 2020, Mumbai’s population will swell to 28 million people, making it the world’s largest city.²

    Since it was the flourishing commercial capital of an undivided India during the colonial era, Mumbai has captured...

  8. (pp. 38-49)
    Jane Lumumba

    Urban fragility is a form of state fragility defined as deteriorating governance and prolonged political crisis or conflict in an urban context.¹ The fragility of governments contributes to their lack of capacity or will to provide services to their citizens. This, coupled with a multitude of economic, political, social, and environmental urban development crises, aggravates urban violence.

    The fragility of Lagos is multidimensional. At the macro-level, Lagos’s fragility is a consequence of urban governance and management challenges, as well as structural economic and social conditions that contribute to urban poverty. These factors create an “anarchic” environment that further deteriorates the...

  9. (pp. 50-56)
    Heidy Cristina Gómez Ramírez

    For the past few years, the city of Medellín has experienced urban armed conflict, with the proliferation of illegal armed groups fighting over neighborhoods and comunas in a struggle for territorial control. While Medellín is often regarded internationally as a success story and a model for urban transformation, diverse and changing forms of violence persist—from physical violence linked to illegal armed groups, to structural violence evidenced by social inequality. Both physical and structural violence have major impacts on vulnerable populations in the city. Yet at the same time, violence-affected communities have managed to resist insecurity and build resilience.


  10. (pp. 57-65)
    Francesco Mancini

    The cases presented in this report give the overarching impression that fragility is not a term that can be meaningfully generalized. As with states, all cities are fragile in different ways. Urban fragility is created by an intricate mix of factors connected to a city’s geographical features, historical heritage, and current political and socioeconomic dynamics. Still, the cases in this report—Bangkok, Dhaka, Mumbai, Lagos, and Medellín—confirm that urban fragility can generally be seen as the extent to which urban systems—including not only infrastructure and ecological systems but also social, economic, and political systems—are susceptible to damage...

  11. (pp. 66-66)