Mike Hodson and Simon Marvin – Centre for Sustainable Urban and Regional Futures (SURF), Salford University
ABSTRACT: Secure urbanism and resilient infrastructure argues that a new logic is beginning to reshape the material development of urban infrastructure networks both within and between cities. World cities are strategically assessing the resilience of their critical infrastructure networks in a period of resource constraint and climate change and in response are developing strategies designed to ensure their continued reproduction. Conventional responses to resource issues have tended to focus on constantly extending the reach of cities’ socio-technical networks to draw in ever more distant energy, water and material resources. Yet concern about “ecological security” challenges such traditional strategies because the question of “systemic preparation” for a period of climate change and resource use becomes a fundamental criteria in assessing the degree to which cites can continue to (attempt) to guarantee their material reproduction. The paper argues that there are three critical elements to the new logic of infrastructure development. The first strategy concerns the degree to which cities are “strategically protected” in terms of their preparedness for adaptation – dealing with heat and enhancing flood protection infrastructure. The second strategy concerns the way that cities’ resource bases are “strategically resilient”, which is how cities can guarantee sufficient access to key energy resources and internal mobility that are low carbon and secure. Cities are attempting to strategically withdraw from national and regional infrastructure and develop new decentralised systems within the city to increase levels of self-sufficiency. The third strategy concerns the development of new “secure global agglomerations”, particularly of new mobility systems – biofuels, hydrogen, and hybrids that can guarantee continued interconnection between world cities. Using a range of evidence we seek to demonstrate that premium world cities are collectively developing this new logic of infrastructural development – often with national governments and key corporates. The paper seeks to outline the key elements of these new strategies that are themselves being touted as emblematic new configurations that can be unproblematically inserted into other contexts. Consequently we critically assess their relevance to ordinary cities and megacities of the global south.
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