NEW ARTICLE: Urban Transitions: on urban resilience and human-dominated ecosystems

Read about our new article on urban transitions from a systemic resilience and ecosystem service perspective. It draws on insights from Cape Town, Phoenix and New Orleans. 

H. Ernstson, S van der Leeuw et al. 2010. Urban Transitions.

Ernstson, H., S. E. van der Leeuw, C. L. Redman, D. J. Meffert, G. Davis, C. Alfsen, and T. Elmqvist. 2010. Urban transitions: on urban resilience and human-dominated ecosystems. Ambio On line publication:DOI: 10.1007/s13280-13010-10081-13289.

Urbanization is a global multidimensional process paired with increasing uncertainty due to climate change, migration of people, and changes in the capacity to sustain ecosystem services. This article lays a foundation for discussing transitions in urban governance, which enable cities to navigate change, build capacity to with- stand shocks, and use experimentation and innovation in face of uncertainty. Using the three concrete case cities— New Orleans, Cape Town, and Phoenix—the article ana- lyzes thresholds and cross-scale interactions, and expands the scale at which urban resilience has been discussed by integrating the idea from geography that cities form part of ‘‘system of cities’’ (i.e., they cannot be seen as single entities). Based on this, the article argues that urban gov- ernance need to harness social networks of urban innova- tion to sustain ecosystem services, while nurturing discourses that situate the city as part of regional ecosys- tems. The article broadens the discussion on urban resil- ience while challenging resilience theory when addressing human-dominated ecosystems. Practical examples of har- nessing urban innovation are presented, paired with an agenda for research and policy.
Photo of Cape Town from Muizenberg Peak. Photo by Yvan Ihklef 2007.
Keywords    Urban resilience, Ecosystem services, Social–ecological processes, Cross-scale interactions, Urban innovation, New Orleans, Cape Town, Phoenix