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Resilience thinking transforming urban governance: The case of Thessaloniki, Greece
* 1 , 2 , 3
1  Warwick Institute for the Science of Cities, University of Warwick
2  Politics and International Studies, University of Warwick
3  Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, University of Warwick


Any initiative for building resilience is only as successful as the underlying governance; hence, resilience policies should not be characterised de-facto as beneficial but rather aim at restructuring urban governance and breaking operational silos in advance of physical planning implementation.

In 2014, Thessaloniki became a member of the 100 Resilient Cities network. This project was the first manifestation of resilience policies in Greece signifying a new era in the national local governance. The Resilience Office has transformed the way city is operating, particularly by representing a point of reference for several public authorities and private stakeholders not adequately communicating in the past.

Changes in the delivery of urban governance go along with the principles of urban resilience, thus transforming communication methods and facilitating decision-making through the wide participation of local communities. Along these lines, local authorities in Thessaloniki have started to consider the local community not only as a recipient but also as a designer of urban policies. Thessaloniki’s Resilience Strategy is attempting to move away from traditional top-down nationally-driven policy-making towards integrated local place-making, by encouraging citizens and local communities to actively participate in co-designing place-based projects. This fundamental shift in conceptualising urban governance as a holistic process not exclusively delivered by the local government, but rather administered by it, emphasises on ‘responsibilising’ a wider spectrum of individuals and organisations and is currently transforming the way the city is operating.

The values of resilience thinking are transforming urban governance by facilitating horizontal coordination of actions and mobilising the local community in the design and implementation of urban projects. The city of Thessaloniki is a notable example of this phenomenon as of resilience has functioned both as a conceptual framework and as an incentive for urban stakeholders to reorganise the traditional governance apparatus and break operational silos.

Keywords: 100 Resilience cities; urban governance; community participation; urban resilience