Cities as Forces for Good Network

Nexus security: governance, innovation and the resilient city

Papers · October 3rd, 2013

M. B. Beck and R. Villarroel Walker (2013). Published in Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering

Nexus security is a compound mix of ideas: reconciling human needs and wants with access to multiple resources; diversity of access to those resources and services; resilience in the face of weather- and climaterelated variability; resilience likewise in the face of infrastructure failure; and the personal, individual sense of belonging. At the level of Systems Thinking there is a very close relationship between resilience in the behavior of natural (ecological) systems and resilience in the social dynamics of governance within communities, where such resilience establishes the viability of these communities over centuries, which in turn entails successful stewardship of the man-environment relationship.We use insights from this cross-system mapping — across natural, built, and human systems — to assess, first, the role of city governance in achieving nexus security (or not) and, second, the role of technological innovations in serving the same purpose. More specifically, eight principles, covering resilience and diversity of access to resources and services, are used to gauge security-enhancing features of city buildings and infrastructure. Case studies include new designs of resilient office blocks, nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) recovery systems for sanitation and wastewater treatment, and the reconstruction of urban parks for the provision of ecosystem services. Throughout the paper, matters of risk in the face of meteorological variability are prominent.We do not conclude, however, that the presence of risk implies nexus insecurity.

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