Page 52 - Final Report-8 NO TRANSPARENCY

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Resilient urban systems:
a socio-technical study of community scale climate change adaptation initiatives
If the system is reliant on one resource supply (i.e. no functional diversity), there are no other options if
that technology should fail. In the absence of technological resilience, the hope is that other enablers would
step in such as diverse and shared knowledge on different ways of performing the same function, and/
or appropriate planning and lines of responsibility at the governance level to facilitate the emergence of a
suitable and timely response. If these enablers are not active, the lack of functional diversity in the system
becomes a significant risk for a maladaptive response.
If there is no long-term management plan for the systems and the communities reliant on them, there
are limited options available for effective adaptation in the event of a change in ownership, responsibility or
community needs. Other enablers such as direct links with the community and embedded learning might
then become critical factors in determining whether such changes lead to adaptation or maladaptation.
This highlights the importance of an integrated approach to building resilience across all timescales that
incorporates the appropriate technical, institutional and social enablers at every stage of the development
process for new developments.
Key findings
The key findings of this research, based on evidence of the technical, institutional and social arrangements
surrounding two case study developments, and the identification of resilience enablers, are as follows.
Finding 1: The resilience of community-scale infrastructure systems is a dynamic state that results
from the interaction of diverse and context specific technical, institutional and social ‘enablers’.
The resilience enablers identified at both sites perform a definable range of functions, some of which are
more important than others.
Technical enablers, such as fail-safe mechanisms or redundant functional components tended to be
dedicated specifically to providing resilience. Once installed, some could operate independently of people
and managing institutions. The Aurora water system was designed with an emphasis on maximising the
role of technical resilience enablers operating at the supply end. However, technical enablers alone are not
enough. In most instances where faults were avoided or addressed, people and institutions played key roles
in the identification, appraisal and development of adaptive responses. At WestWyck, where a significant
adaptation in systems design occurred to increase resilience, changes were required in individual practices
and responsibility, institutional arrangements and technical configuration. Institutional enablers, such as
those providing clear lines of responsibility and the capacity to influence stakeholders, and social enablers,
such as those providing learning and information exchange were critical in the detection, response and on-
going adaptation to system faults and hazards.
Finding 2: Climate change poses few direct short-term threats to the local energy and water
systems examined. However, both developments also depend on larger energy grid and reticulated
water systems subject to indirect threats from climate change.
The urban and peri-urban location and connection to centralised supply networks ensure that most impacts
are buffered. Blackouts and extended droughts are the most significant hazards. Clearly, these exposures
are site specific and our two pilot cases are not sufficient to draw wide conclusions about the function of
energy and water systems—indeed, it is reasonable to assume that in some cases climate change does
provide direct threats to these systems. Moreover, while we have not conducted a study of potential costs
of energy and water services under climate change, there are implications associated with the costs of
maintaining systems and potential increased demand for services. Here, we focus upon the technical
efficacy of such systems.