Inserting rights and justice into urban resilience: a focus on everyday risk

Gina Ziervogel, Mark Pelling*, Anton Cartwright, Eric Chu, Tanvi Deshpande, Leila Harris, Keith Hyams, Jean Kaunda, Benjamin Klaus, Kavya Michael, Lorena Pasquini, Robyn Pharoah, Lucy Rodina, Dianne Scott, Patricia Zweig

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

113 Citations (Scopus)
253 Downloads (Pure)


Resilience building has become a growing policy agenda, particularly for urban risk management. While much of the resilience agenda has been shaped by policies and discourses from the global North, its applicability for cities of the global South, particularly African cities, has not been sufficiently assessed. Focusing on rights of urban citizens as the object to be made resilient, rather than physical and ecological infrastructures, may help to address many of the root causes that characterize the unacceptable risks that urban residents face on a daily basis. Linked to this idea, we discuss four entry points for grounding a rights and justice orientation for urban resilience. First, notions of resilience must move away from narrow, financially oriented risk analyses. Second, opportunities must be created for “negotiated resilience”, to allow for attention to processes that support these goals, as well as for the integration of diverse interests. Third, achieving resilience in ways that do justice to the local realities of diverse urban contexts necessitates taking into account endogenous, locally situated processes, knowledges and norms. And finally, urban resilience needs to be placed within the context of global systems, providing an opportunity for African contributions to help reimagine the role that cities might play in these global financial, political and science processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-138
Number of pages16
JournalEnvironment and Urbanization
Issue number1
Early online date20 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017


  • African cities
  • rights and entitlements
  • risk
  • social justice
  • urban resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies


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