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Ensuring the resilience of urban areas

Ensuring the resilience of urban areas

Climate change, natural risks, technological accidents, pollution of the urban environment, social and economic divisions… such are the risks facing urban territories today. Cities are complex areas, characterised by eco-systemic interactions and interdependencies, and are therefore particularly vulnerable to disasters. Therefore, in addition to risk reduction measures, it is essential to develop genuine urban cultures of resilience.


Knowledge and forecasting of risks

Right from the planning stage, the risks that a city is facing or may face must be identified, bearing in mind the fact that their gravity and consequences will develop as urban growth itself develops. Stakeholders must be associated with this work both because they are privy to part of the knowledge and because they must themselves prepare to deal with it.

Natural risks must be identified and measured using available historical knowledge, but this must also include the consequences of climate change, both on the climate and related extreme phenomena as well as on the rise of sea levels.

Technological risks, the consequence of the development of economic and industrial activities presenting a danger to inhabitants, must be anticipated at the planning stage so that their consequences for dense urban areas can be limited.

Snow-covered motorway Credit Laurent Mignaux METL-MEDDE

Adaptation of cities to the effects of climate change and natural risks

By amplifying the risk of extreme weather events, climate change increases the dangers of natural risks: floods, landslides, high winds, storms and snow storms, etc. Buildings and infrastructure must therefore be adapted to anticipate them.

In certain regions the consequence may be a significant temperature increase, at least at certain times of the year. This impact may be reduced by prior thought concerning urban morphology and the design of buildings.

Finally, water supply remains a major need which must lead to economic design and management that is particularly attentive to waste.

Risk prevention and management

Regardless of their origin, risk prevention and management must be integrated into the design of a city and its facilities. In particular, surveillance and alert mechanisms must be deployed concerning the various areas and types of risk identified so that reactions can be anticipated capable of reducing the consequences should these risks be realised. These measures will be all the more effective to the extent that the stakeholders, in particular the residents concerned, are involved in this surveillance, and are informed and trained to react to it.

Seismic risks - A building in Yalova during the Gölcük earthquake (Turkey) on 17 August 1999. © BRGM - Pierre Mouroux


Design of infrastructure and critical services

Particular attention must be paid to infrastructure and critical services, the proper functioning of which is even more important during a crisis period: communication, energy distribution, water supply, transport systems and the health system in particular. In these different areas, infrastructure and networks must be hardened in order to withstand the most probable risks and the degraded mode operation specified from the outset.

Regeneration and land economy

Activities in urban areas often generate pollution and waste. Often sites are abandoned leaving brownfield sites unsuitable for reuse. Regeneration of already urbanised land is essential for saving agricultural land to meet the needs of urban growth as well as for recreating natural spaces useful for biodiversity.


♦ Nice
♦ Enviroconsult 
♦ ​Environnement SA