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The urban resilience perspective of Sustainable Development Goals: reframing definitions and indicators
1  National School of Statistical Science (ENCE) - Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE)


The global increase of urban population and environmental related disasters were the scenario to the increase of several debates on urban issues, including urban resilience. This idea was incorporated by international agencies as a core concept for urbanization and sustainability, inclusive in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Specifically, the SDG 11 recognizes the need to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. In this sense, urban resilience has already been framed and promoted in a global scale as a normative and analytic concept. However, local and regional dynamics puts specifics challenges in relation to resilience implementation and measurement. In this paper we analyze this global scenario, evaluating SDGs and the new urban agenda in relation to Brazilian urbanization. For this, we consider its extremely unequal territorial development and its lack of urban services and infrastructure. Discussing the set of global definitions and indicators that grounds policies with a specific direction for urban-environment relations, we argue that the complexity of urban resilience theory, which involves urban form, land-use patterns and spatial ecological processes, is not sufficiently considered by global agencies that defines resilience goals. The Brazilian case illustrate how some resilience indicators are not specific and measurable, beyond the low adherence to its reality. Although local stakeholders and government actors take resilience as a main goal to urban planning, this analyses show how the promotion of this specific idea of resilience is insufficient to achieve a real increase of wellbeing and of the capacity to deal with changes. Within this, the paper enhances the need to think the local contexts of urban resilience, the lack of linkages among indicators and targets in the SDGs, as well as the limits of this framework and indicators to induce effective changes in inequality, housing and urbanization in Brazilian cities.

Keywords: Sustainable Development Goals; Urban Resilience; Brazil; inequality.