Josef W. Konvitz
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The vulnerability and resilience of cities
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The ultimate test of how well prepared a society is to cope with and recover from a crisis is another crisis. The lessons of the economic crisis of 2008 show how long it takes to bring about reforms, and how difficult international co-operation to achieve greater coherence can be. Looking to the future, disasters – global and local – are likely to exceed past trends, challenging the capacity of individual countries to absorb their impact. Cross-border, cross-sectoral, place-based strategies will be difficult for governments to introduce and implement, as illustrated by examples from the past two decades, and by the risks associated with flooding. Earlier in the 20th century, modern networked infrastructure utilities were seen as a point of vulnerability, but bombing in war did not bring about an expected collapse of urban societies and economies. Instead, this experience highlighted the factors of resilience. Strengthening resilience makes sense but it is not a cost-free strategy. The greatest risk to resilience comes from the fragmentation of society and a loss of social capital.

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