Page 10 - Final Report-8 NO TRANSPARENCY

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Resilient urban systems:
a socio-technical study of community scale climate change adaptation initiatives
Aims and approach
The Resilient Urban Systems project is a response to the complex challenge of ensuring energy and water
infrastructure systems are adapted to climate change and that they minimise rather than exacerbate
community vulnerability. This research project is a pilot exercise that considered the alternative energy
and water systems of two selected communities as case studies to identify key issues, challenges and
opportunities for improving the resilience and adaptive capacity of Victorian infrastructure. The investigation
was framed around understanding different designs for energy and water systems and adaptive capacity
of Victorian urban communities, and what policy innovations and initiatives would encourage the spread of
long-term resilient systems in the short term.
Objectives of the Resilient Urban Systems project:
A. Identify existing examples of innovative/emerging energy and water supply systems, and define the
organisational arrangements surrounding these systems.
B. Determine how selected Victorian urban communities and households are adapting (or maladapting)
to innovative/emerging energy and water systems, and the implications for system resilience.
C. Examine how these systems were developed, the stakeholders involved, and the policy initiatives
and institutional arrangements that might encourage innovation and uptake of resilient systems
D. Assess the policy and technical opportunities, innovations and constraints that might arise in
expanding the scale of resilient systems in Victoria’s urban communities.
E. Develop preliminary criteria to assist policy makers in evaluating the resilience of new urban system
options, taking into account the role of social adaptation.
The outcomes of this research are intended to inform the development of a more extensive analysis to
address the above objectives. The pilot project was intended to provide sufficient indicative data that it
could inform the planning of resilient urban systems by Victorian governments, agencies and programs
identify critical areas for more detailed research.
Methods and approach
Resources limited the research to two pilot case studies: Aurora and WestWyck. In studies of urban
socio-technical systems, there are so many variables that a controlled comparison is meaningless.
However, empirical research can provide useful comparative evidence when case studies are examined in
detail in their own context. Ideally, urban socio-technical relations should be studied longitudinally, to allow
comparisons to be made over time, for example, ‘before’ and ‘after’ particular system changes occur.
It is important to note that while both systems have been in place for similar periods of time (less than a
decade) they do exhibit key differences beyond the configurations of alternative energy and water systems.
Firstly, Aurora is a much larger scale development and secondly, it is established in an outer fringe setting.
In contrast, WestWyck is within an inner urban setting, and is occupied by households who in general are
at more established life stages. These and other differences limit direct comparisons of performance and
indicate the need for further research involving more cases from which to generalise patterns and findings.
Research for this report was conducted between May 2010 and May 2011 and occurred in four phases as
described below and summarised in Figure 2.