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Emerging practices for mainstreaming resilient critical urban infrastructure governance
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1  University of Warwick


Conventional urban governance has largely focused on protecting critical infrastructure (CI) from specific threats and tends to manifest in silo-based practices that frequently overlook interdependencies and socio-political factors shaping local adaptive capacity (Coaffee & Clarke, 2016). Recent urban planning models (e.g. SDG11, 100 Resilient Cities) call for a transformation of governance to stimulate resilience-building and sectoral integration. It is of equal importance for planning and monitoring systems to be relevant to the local context – especially concerning vulnerable residents – and to account for the extent to which the above factors vary across neighbourhoods and cities.

We therefore argue that a key feature of these models is their ability to draw on new stakeholders. The focus is on communities, as their contextual and diverse knowledge can be instrumental for identifying synergies at the local level. Regarding reframing resilience, embracing uncertainty then is about the ability to align heterogenous perceptions of criticality, to reduce the possibility of exposure and flexibly mobilise networks for mitigation. Thus, this research explores the potential of aligning of heterogenous perceptions to resilience-building and contextualisation of global planning models.

We propose a framework to analyse changes of governance processes in terms of their adaptiveness based on three components: (1) changes in networks, which refers to the diversity of institutional and individual actors represented; (2) in discourses, such as the framing of issues in policies and proposals for interventions; and (3) in evaluation practices, such as the sectoral integration of targets for CI provision. Based on our ongoing research in one of Nairobi’s informal settlements, we apply this framework to analyse the extent to which the introduction of community-based participatory data generation for healthcare service provision triggers adaptive governance processes.

To conclude, we will highlight the potential advantages of, and illuminate the barriers to, mainstreaming transformation towards resilient urban governance.

Keywords: Resilient Governance; Governance Processes; Critical Urban Infrastructure; Participatory Methods; SDG11