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'Don't call me resilient again!': the New Urban Agenda as Immunology … or … what happens when communities refuse to be vaccinated with 'Smart Cities' and Indicators MARIA KAIKA

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Abstract

The inclusion of ‘cities and communities’ as a target goal (11) in the UN 2030 agenda is positively endorsed. When it comes to WHAT needs to change, the new urban agenda recognizes cities not only as problems, but also as opportunities (Barnett and Purnell 2016). However, when it comes to the HOW, the call to make cities “safe, resilient, sustainable and inclusive” thus far remains path-dependent to the pursuit of indicators and techno-managerial solutions, methodological tools and institutional frameworks of an ecological modernisation paradigm that has been proven not to work. I argue that the pursuit of resilience, sustainability, safety, and inclusiveness within this path-dependent framework can act -at best- as an immunological practice: it vaccinates people and environments so that they can take larger doses of inequality and environmental degradation in the future; it mediates the consequences of global socio-environmental inequality, but does little towards alleviating it. Moreover, an increasing number of movements and actors across the world refuse to take this immunological medicine; they refuse the allocation of safety, resilience, inclusiveness or sustainability, and demand instead to be co-decision makers in setting development goals, and changing institutional practices. These actors rupture path-dependency and establish innovate and effective methods that promote access to housing, healthcare education, sanitation, etc. If we are looking for real smart solutions and real social innovation, they are to be found not in consensus building exercises, but in these methods and practices born out of conflict and dissent that can lead to instituting alternative means to tackle global socio-environmental inequality.
How to cite this paper
This is the pre-publication draft of the following paper:
MARIA KAIKA (2017) “Don’t call me Resilient Again!” The New Urban Agenda as
Immunology … or what happens when communities refuse to be vaccinated with smart
cities and indicators. Environment and Urbanization DOI 10.1177/0956247816684763.
m.kaika@uva.nl
maria.kaika@manchester.ac.uk
“Don’t call me Resilient Again!”:
the New Urban Agenda as Immunology … or what
happens when communities refuse to be vaccinated with ‘smart cities’ and indicators.
MARIA KAIKA
ABSTRACT The Habitat III Conference’s New Urban Agenda hails a “paradigm shift for pursuing the
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, the new call for “safe, resilient, sustainable and
inclusive cities” remains path-dependent on old methodological tools (e.g. indicators), techno-managerial
solutions (e.g. smart cities), and institutional frameworks of an ecological modernization paradigm that
did not work. Pursuing a new urban paradigm within this old framework can only act as immunology:
it vaccinates citizens and environments so that they can take larger doses of inequality and degradation
in the future; it mediates the effects of global socio-environmental inequality, but does little towards
alleviating it. Indeed, an increasing number of communities across the world now decline these
immunological offers. Instead, they rupture path dependency and establish effective alternative methods
for accessing housing, healthcare, sanitation, etc. I argue that real smart solutions and real social
innovation are to be found not in consensus-building exercises, but in these dissensus practices that act as
living indicators of what/where urgently needs to be addressed.
KEYWORDS conflict / dissensus / Habitat III / inclusiveness / indicators / New Urban Agenda /
political ecology / resilience / safety / smart cities / social innovation / Sustainable Development Goal 11 /
sustainability
I. GREENING BY NUMBERS: INDICATORS AND SMART TECHNOLOGIES AS
TOTEMS OF THE CONTINUOUSLY FRUSTRATED PROMISE FOR ECOLOGICAL
MODERNIZATION
In May 2016 the Dutch environmental group Milieudefensie reported that poor air quality in parts of
Amsterdam, Maastricht and Rotterdam was breaking EU standards, exposing citizens to hazardous levels
of pollution.(
1
) One month later, newspapers featured an article on a new example of smart technology,
TreeWifi: a birdhouse that responds to air pollution and glows green, giving passersby free Wi-Fi, but
only when the air quality is high. The Dutch designer/inventor Joris Lam said that he was driven by the
wish “to find a simple way to make air pollution visible to citizens in a way that people just understand
on an emotional level, rather than having to dig through data and maps”.(
2
) However, the title of the
newspaper article featuring TreeWifi promised far more than just an understanding at emotional level.
The title suggested that TreeWifi could be part of a solution to air pollution: “Can ‘smart birdhouses
help improve air quality in Amsterdam?” it asked.
The media and policymakers love smart technologies. These technologies collect and feed data
into environmental monitoring frameworks; they make it easier to report on sustainability indicators; they
have become the totem of our commitment to the ecological modernization promise: the promise that by
perpetually becoming technologically smarter, by continuously monitoring and improving our
sustainability reporting and indicators, we will eventually counteract our own global socio-environmental
mess. For example, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (20152030) stipulates strict
requirements for obtaining “the minimum data for [being able to] report to the Framework”.(
3
) This
means that becoming smart enough to be able to collect, enter and validate data at local and national
levels is a prerequisite for countries to become part of the development framework. The same logic is
followed by private initiatives. The IBM Smarter Cities Challenge Programme equates the need to
control the environment with the need to “undertake the systematic collection of [relevant]
information”, and translates the goal to strengthen collaborative capacity into a priority to “build a
common device for information and data acquisition.(
4
)
This greening by numbers and indicators, or the translation of socio-environmental issues into
techno-scientific monitoring and infrastructure technologies,(
5
) means that the pursuit of sustainable
development goals becomes increasingly identified with the pursuit of smart technologies and smart
cities. As techno-managerial systems are increasingly perceived as a panacea for solving global socio-
environmental problems, a direct path dependency (and co-dependency) develops between the pursuit of
sustainability frameworks and the pursuit of smart technologies and smart cities.
When a sustainability indicator fails to improve, it provides the opportunity to develop a new
smart technology or governance technique that promises to counteract our losses. But this is a repeatedly
unfulfillable and repeatedly frustrated promise. Anyone following the evolution of sustainable
development research and policy agendas knows full well that smart cities do not equal sustainable cities;
that the simple and straightforward answer to the question posed by the newspaper article (“Can ‘smart
birdhouses help improve air quality?”) is a simple and straightforward no. Smart birdhouses (or any
other smart technology for that matter) cannot improve air quality in Amsterdam (or any other city).
Smart cities and ICTs cannot be the solution because, in fact, they are part of the problem. If we
trace the full socio-environmental cycle of smart technologies, we get a better picture of how
sustainable these technologies really are. Coltan (columbitetantalite), for example, the metallic ore that
is a vital component of all mobile communication circuit boards, is sold at prices that range between US$
600 and 3,000 per kilogram. However, over 18 per cent of the world’s supply of coltan comes from the
Democratic Republic of Congo. and is mined by hand under what the UN repeatedly reports to be a
highly organized and systematic exploitation of both local nature and local people.(
6
) This is just one of
the many examples of how the sustainability of those cities that can afford to become smarter is directly
dependent upon the destruction of environments and livelihoods in other parts of the world.
But the problem does not lie only with the full socio-environmental cycle of smart technologies.
We are now beginning to assess the full socio-environmental cycle of decades of policy frameworks and
governance practices pursuing green development agendas through sustainability indicators and
smart monitoring techniques.(
7
) We now have ample evidence that green development agendas have
been driving new forms of displacement and environmental/ecological gentrification in the global
South.(
8
) A case in point is Amnesty International’s 2015/16 report on migrant labour conditions in the
United Arab Emirates, which sheds an entirely different light on the sustainability credentials of the
“eco-city” Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s showcase for post-carbon urbanization.(
9
) The production of Masdar,
which has been hailed as the jewel in the crown of eco-modernization, depended not only upon mining for
minerals under near-slave labour conditions elsewhere. It was also predicated upon inhumane local labour
conditions (in the United Arab Emirates) on construction sites staffed mainly by underpaid and often
uninsured migrants.(
10
) Similarly, in India, Prime Minister Modi’s programme promoting smart cities as a
growth engine for India had highly questionable socio-environmental outcomes, becoming at best a form
of entrepreneurial urbanization(
11
) that failed to develop an integrated set of alternative policies(
12
) that
would address, amongst other things, issues related to the country’s colonial past.(
13
) Often vested in a
rhetoric of enabling radical change, such solutions contribute to ensuring that nothing really changes.
But the perverse outcomes of pursuing sustainability through indicator frameworks and smart
technologies are not confined to the global South. Greenberg documents how the famously “ecotopian”
San Francisco Bay Area saw its sustainability indexes rise at the same time that it became one of the most
expensive and unequal urban areas in the US.(
14
) Heynen et al.(
15
) show what greening by numbers and
indicators can mean in social practice, when they correlate the inequitable spatial distribution of urban
trees in Milwaukee to spatial data on race and ethnicity.
So, overall we have become more savvy vis-à-vis the impact of addressing global socio-
environmental ills through the pursuit of smarter monitoring technologies and better performance
indicators.(
16
) However, we continue pursuing the development of smarter cities and the design of more
sophisticated indicators as if this in itself would have a positive impact on global livelihoods and
environments. We keep treating nature as if it were something that could be injected into cities in the
form of parks or green roofs, an aesthetic artefact that (like smart technologies) can be planted in cities to
increase sustainability and induce harmonious living.(
17
) We keep equating smart cities with
sustainable or just cities.
The New Urban Agenda (NUA) is a case in point. The logic that equates smart cities with
sustainable or just cities was already embedded in the preparation documents leading up to the publication
of the NUA. One of these, the 2015 report of the United Nations’ Focus Group on Smart Sustainable
Cities (FG-SSC),(
18
) begins by stating that it is “a truth universally acknowledged that a (smart) city in
possession of a good ICT infrastructure must also be sustainable” [emphasis added].(
19
)
But when and how exactly, through what methods and based upon which evidence, did we reach
this universally acknowledged truth, namely that smart cities equal sustainable or just cities?
What the above quote shows is that we have come to take our own myths for as truth. We have come to
equate smart with sustainable, because we take our working hypotheses as the truth, without
evidence. In a nutshell, we have been doing bad science. So, as smartness in data collection and
monitoring becomes a goal in its own right and a prerequisite for cities to enter development frameworks,
the key question is, could the New Urban Agenda along with the strengthened focus on cities in the
SDGs(
20
) change this simplistic and logically flawed debate and practice?
II. THE NEW URBAN AGENDA: CHANGING THE
WHAT
BUT NOT THE
HOW
?
The New Urban Agenda for the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban
Development (Habitat III) and the inclusion of sustainable cities and communities as a target goal
(Goal 11) in the 20152030 SDGs(
21
) are together hailed as an acknowledgement of what urban scholars
have been systematically arguing and documenting: that we cannot address global socio-environmental
problems without addressing urbanization processes.(
22
) Issues that have been at the centre of urban
research for several decades (from housing, urban transportation, sanitation, air quality monitoring and
waste management, to cultural and natural urban heritage) are finally included in one way or another in
SDG 11’s broader objective to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and
sustainable”,(
23
) an objective that is repeated in the NUA.(
24
)
So, certainly, when it comes to what needs to change, as Barnett and Parnell(
25
) discuss, the New
Urban Agenda does seem to broaden the conceptual framework, given that it recognizes cities not only as
problems, but also as opportunities for broad-reaching policy changes.(
26
) However, despite a conceptual
shift on what cities are and what sustainability can mean in this context, when it comes to the how, the
NUA and the call of SDG 11 to make cities “safe, resilient, sustainable and inclusive” appear already to
have been hijacked by research agendas and the same policy and methodological frameworks of the past.
Although the Quito Implementation Plan for the NUA hails a new “urban paradigm shift”,(
27
) past
methods of questionable efficiency, like the City Prosperity Initiative (CPI), have been resurrected for
Habitat III, and are being “revised and tested … adapted to the New Urban Agenda and urban SDGs”.
Habitat III’s focus on measuring “the New Urban Agenda and SDGs” by enhancing further “systematic
monitoring and reporting” and establishing more sophisticated and “customized monitoring
mechanisms”(
28
) builds on the (failed) methods of the past. “Access to science, technology, and
innovation and enhanced knowledge-sharing” become, once again, the key focus of the NUA,(
29
) and
smart cities frameworks become more than ever identified with sustainable cities (though now also
with resilient”, inclusive and safe cities). Predictably, the policy and research agendas that begin to
emerge out of the NUA are equally dependent on old (tried and often failed) paths, as they remain
strikingly and worryingly focused on the same set of questions:
How can we model the best set of indicators to monitor sustainability, but now also
inclusiveness, safety and resilience?
How can we best tap into big data, finding the smartest technologies to collect data for our
enhanced and ever data-hungry modelling exercises?
Should we look for top-down or bottom-up solutions?
Should we trust the market (identified with efficiency and effectiveness) or the people (identified
with irrational choices but also with accountability and inclusiveness)?
So, although the NUA shifts the conceptual framework within which cities are understood, the
key research and political questions remain the same; and so do the methodological tools and
institutional frameworks. Despite recognizing cities as processes, and flows of resources, people,
environments, goods and services as opportunities rather than problems,(
30
) the key questions posed, and
the methodological tools and institutional frameworks proposed, thus far remain the same.
The use of these failed frameworks builds little confidence that the NUA will address the
problems. Doing so would necessitate recognizing that the sustainability of one locale may entail the
socio-environmental destruction of another; that the successful installation of smart monitoring
technologies in Amsterdam most probably means further socio-environmental destruction in Congo; or
that the success of electronics recycling in London most probably means an increase in hazardous
electronic waste exports to other parts of the world.
Now that we can take stock of our significant experience with policy and research
experimentation on sustainable development, now that we are aware of the pitfalls of pursuing the perfect
set of sustainability indicators and techno-managerial solutions as a means to counteract global urban
socio-environmental ills, can we still insist that socio-environmental equality can be reduced to
inclusiveness indicators? That social welfare can be reduced to resilience and safety indicators? Or that
environmental protection can be reduced to sustainability indicators?
III.
SUSTAINABILITY COMING OF AGE: THE END OF INNOCENCE
As noted earlier, we now have sufficient documentation that the policy, institutional and technological
experimentation that followed the excitement and optimism of the 1987 Brundtland report, did not
deliver the “sustainable development” that the report conceptualized. We have documented that the
pursuit of the perfect set of sustainability indicators and the pursuit of the perfect techno-managerial
solutions to monitor these indicators did not deliver the relief from global socio-environmental ills we had
hoped for. We have also witnessed the devastating socio-environmental effects of rational choice-led,
market-oriented practices. Large-scale privatization programmes left the global South with incomplete
infrastructure, destroyed traditional networks of water supply, and depleted public funds.(
31
) These
programmes failed to such an extent that the World Bank instituted an Inspection Panel to pursue
accountability for people negatively affected by the Bank’s own projects.(
32
) We have now also witnessed,
researched and documented that turning social welfare into a private affair
33
) by promoting access to
housing education or healthcare through easy access to credit (private loans and mortgages) led to a series
of socialenvironmental disasters, including the US and European subprime mortgage and evictions
crisis.(
34
)
A generous reading of these failures could label these past practices as faux frais (or incidental
operating expenses); those early methodological, policy, and technological frameworks can be assigned
the alibi of the innocence or naïveté that comes with the experimental and the new; we did not know
better back then. But we do know better now. Sustainability has come of age. And the alibi (or innocence)
of the new offered to past methods and policy tools has run its course. The failures of the past have
made us more savvy and more knowledgeable. They should have also made us wise enough to stop
claiming that global socio-environmental equality, social welfare or value creation can be reduced to
indicators.
Why then, despite the fact that we know too well that policy, economic, institutional and techno-
managerial frameworks have been proven not to work, do we keep picking our policy, governance and
research tools from the same old armory? Why, despite knowing that agendas driven by techno-
managerial solutions do not work, do we keep pursuing them? Why, despite knowing that market-driven
solutions do not work as one size fits all panaceas, do we keep advocating for them as the most efficient
and effective?(
35
) Is it not about time we thought differently? Time we changed questions and methods?
But, perhaps most importantly, is it not time we changed our interlocutors?
IV. CHANGING INTERLOCUTORS? THE POLICY RELEVANCE OF
DISSENSUS
AND
OF PRESUMING POSITIONS OF EQUALITY IN AN INCREASINGLY UNEQUAL
WORLD
Now that our age of innocence is over, we cannot afford (socially or environmentally) to remain path-
dependent on failed methods and policy frameworks. So, what if we took the failures of the past
seriously? What if, instead of pursuing path dependency, instead of continuing to pursue “safe,
sustainable, resilient and inclusive cities” through the design of indicators and smart monitoring
solutions, we tried instead to break away from fixed policy paths? What if, alongside changing the
conceptual framework within which we understand cities, we also changed our research questions, our
methodological tools and our institutional frameworks?
But in order to change tools, methods and questions, we need to change interlocutors.(
36
) We need
to focus on who has been silenced in the design and delivery of past sustainable development agendas and
goals, and why. We need to erase assumptions of primacy, and listen to, and engage with, subjects
beyond the usual suspects of urban environmental change; beyond consultants, planners, designers,
policymakers, market advocates, technocrats and NGOs.
So instead of trying to build consensus over the NUA amongst the usual suspects and invited
participants, imagine focusing on monitoring dissensus instead. Imagine focusing on where, how, why,
and by whom conflict and disagreement are generated. Imagine no longer ignoring the new research and
policy questions that emerging practices of dissensus raise. As I demonstrate in the sections that follow, if
we were to do this, we might find that resilience, safety, sustainability and inclusiveness are not the issues
we should be focusing our agendas on.
a. Beyond resilience
The NUA and Habitat III take resilience seriously and advocate directing human resources, research
funding and policy innovation towards capturing the ever-elusive missing parameters that would perfect
our resilient cities models. But instead we might shift focus and take seriously the words of Tracie
Washington, President of the Louisiana Justice Institute, who requested that policymakers and the media
stop calling Hurricane Katrina and BP Oil spill victims “resilient”. “Stop calling me resilient” was the
loud cry of the public campaign she launched and disseminated across New Orleans. Objecting to the way
the media and policymakers continuously praised her community for its resilience, Washington
explained:
“every time you say, “Oh, they’re resilient, [it actually] means you can do something else,
[something] new to [my community]. We were not born to be resilient; we are conditioned to
be resilient. I don’t want to be resilient …. [I want to] fix the things that [create the need for us
to] be resilient [in the first place][emphasis added].(
37
)
Indeed, Washington’s objection to being called “resilient speaks directly to current definitions
and practices of resilience. For example, the Rockefeller Foundation’s City Resilience Index, a
programme prepared in collaboration with the Arup consultancy, defines city resilience as “the capability
of cities to function, so that the people living and working with cities particularly the poor and
vulnerable survive and thrive no matter what stresses or shocks they encounter.(
38
)
But if we took Tracie Washington’s objection seriously, we would stop focusing on how to make
citizens more resilient “no matter what stresses they encounter”, as this would only mean that they can
take more suffering, deprivation or environmental degradation in the future. If we took this statement
seriously, we would need to focus instead on identifying the actors and processes that produce the need to
build resilience in the first place. And we would try to change these factors instead.
In recent years, a growing body of critical academic and policy research on resilience has
documented the need to incorporate social processes (including the complex role of communities,
leadership, social learning, networks, institutions, etc.) into future methodology design and policy
practices for resilience building.(
39
) This body of research has brought significant critical insight; but it
also leads to broader questions about the very possibility to fully model the dynamics of global social
ecological change, and to deliver socio-environmental justice through techno-managerial solutions. These
broader and more critical questions, however, remain absent from the current NUA framework for
resilience building.
b. Beyond inclusiveness
A similar approach to that for resilient cities, and similar methods and frameworks, also applies to the
way inclusive”, safe and sustainable” cities are addressed in the NUA. The release (in August 2015)
of the UN General Assembly document Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable
Development was immediately followed by the mandate to the Interagency and Expert Group for
Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (IAEG-SDGIs) to develop a “global indicator framework” that
would “encompass all 17 SDGs and 169 targets in a balanced and integrated manner”.(
40
)
The global indicator framework was adopted in March 2016. This means that even before the
New Urban Agenda draft was published (on 10 September 2016) for discussion at Habitat III,(
41
) the
methodological frameworks and policy tools for the pursuit of SDGs had already been determined and
based upon previous policy and methodology paths. Indeed, during the March 2016 Statistical
Commission meeting in New York, different groups(
42
) disputed the parameters and processes that drove
the formulation of the new indicator framework. However, there was little contestation or broader
debate about the rationale for following a methodology, based on indicator frameworks, that had been
proven to fail, as the best means forward to achieve the 20162030 Sustainable Development Goals.
Equally, the open consultation period (1928 September 2016) that followed mainly comprised of an
invitation for suggestions “on possible refinements for a limited set of indicators in the Global Indicator
Framework for the Sustainable Development Goals”.(
43
)
But what would happen if, instead of asking the usual interlocutors to refine the usual
inclusiveness”, safety”, “sustainability or resilience indicators, we actually took seriously the
increasing number of citizens and communities that refuse to be merely “included in predefined policy
frameworks and to participate in fulfilling inclusiveness indicators? What if we took seriously the acts
of the Rosieni community, in Rosia Montana, Romania, who refused to be included in discussions over
how a new mining project that would destroy their environment and livelihoods could be made more
sustainable and more beneficial for their community? In fact, the Rosieni did accept the original
invitation to sit around the negotiating table with the mining company and state authorities. But they soon
realized that this only legitimized the injustice of existing practices and reproduced fixed roles and power
positions. When invited to be included”, there was already a clear role assigned to them: not that of the
equal co-decision maker in setting development goals and allocating resources, but that of the subordinate
subject, who is only allowed to choose from a set menu of monetary or other compensatory practices in
return for the destruction of her/his livelihood and environment.(
44
)
Or what if, instead of adding the quest for the perfect inclusiveness” indicators to the quest for
the perfect sustainability indicators, we took seriously the practices of the Platform for Mortgage
Affected People (PAH) in Spain, who like the Rosieni make a point of not accepting their inclusion
in pre-designed policy frameworks? The PAH was formed in 2009 to support families in Spain (over
300,000 by now) evicted by banks because they could not repay their mortgage debt.(
45
) The PAH does
not accept the role of the state or banks as powerful authorities that can evict and subsequently include
evicted citizens in discussions about housing. Instead, the PAH establishes housing as an indisputable and
undeniable right for all. It contends that when this right is not granted, it is not to be negotiated through
consensus-building frameworks. It is to be taken.
The PAH takes back this right for those who are evicted in three distinct ways: first, by trying to
stop evictions by legal means, thus making evictions a costly act for the state and for banks; second, by
providing strong physical opposition formed by the presence of citizens during the actual evictions
moment; and third, by occupying empty buildings owned by banks and re-housing evicted families there.
In short, the PAH actively promotes a process that not only re-houses, but also re-dignifies, evicted
people by making them political beings again.
c. Beyond false sustainability dilemmas (market versus public management)
Finally, what if we took the debate and policy agendas on sustainability beyond the persistent false
dichotomy of market efficiency vs public accountability? We could take seriously Patel et al’s.(
46
) paper
on the methods of the Indian Alliance, in Mumbai, which for over 30 years has been developing
community practices for housing provision that operate outside state or market mechanisms.
Or we might take seriously Initiative 136 (K136), and SOSte to NERO, the collectives that turned
into a wider citizens’ alliance that strived to redefine water as neither public nor private, but as the
commons, in Thessaloniki, Greece. Initiated by the public water company’s trade union as a response to
privatization calls, the citizens’ water alliance produced new imaginaries that radically changed the
framework for negotiating water as the commons and as a collective global right. Instead of simply
protesting against the pending privatization of the municipal water company, K136 instituted the practices
and means for citizens to buy up the water company and make it a citizens’ collective when it came up for
privatization. 136 actually refers to the euros that each citizen would need to contribute in order to make
their bid possible. “Buying back the public, 136 euros at a time” was their motto.
What is most astonishing in this case is that this call did not remain an utopian vision like so
many others. K136 did actually raise the capital, and was up there competing against global corporate
giants like Suez Water and Merkorot in the public tender for acquiring Thessaloniki’s water company
when it came up for sale in 2013. K136 persuaded 20 international investors (including the Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation, a French cooperative bank and the Italian Banca Ethica) to guarantee their bid
with 1 billion euros, via the mediation of Robert Apfel (a financier) and Jon Redwood (former advisor to
Margaret Thatcher’s privatization programme). By so doing, K136 posed a deep political dilemma to each
citizen. Either keep 136 euros as spending power and turn it into 10 jumpers, 5 pairs of shoes, a
smartphone, etc., or turn these 136 euros into real capital, that is, into the ability to make decisions over
the use, management and allocation of water resources in their city. Although the bid was ruled as
‘illegal’ by the Hellenic Republic’s Asset Development Fund S.A. (ΤΑΥΠΕΔ), the broader citizens’
water alliance (SOSte to NERO and K136 aligned with other citizens initiatives) did halt the bidding
process by taking this decision to court and prevented the privatization of the municipal water company
after an internationally publicized referendum. The practices of the movement (K136, SOSTE to NERO
and allied NGOs) are so radical because they turned citizens from indebted powerless objects into
potentially powerful decision makers who can reclaim their commons by producing alternative means of
allocating and managing resources.
V. THE NUA AS IMMUNOLOGY: BUT WHAT IF COMMUNITIES REFUSE TO BE
VACCINATED?
The examples described in the previous sections are part of a wide-spreading social dissensus; that is, of
the proliferation of practices of dissent, dissatisfaction and disagreement across the world. What these
practices have in common is that they point clearly to exactly what is wrong with focusing on concepts
like resilience, safety, inclusiveness and sustainability as development goals and as means of
delivering global socio-environmental equality. Namely, all four concepts , are attributes that can only
be allocated/handed down: from those in power to those in need. And as such, they fail by design
to address questions related to the conditions that made it necessary for people and environments
to seek resilience, safety and sustainability in the first place.
The best these practices can do is act as immunology(
47
): they vaccinate people and
environments alike so that they are able to take larger doses of inequality and environmental degradation
in the future. Pursuing these goals can perhaps mediate some of the consequences of global socio-
environmental inequality. But it does little towards alleviating inequality per se.
Such immunological practices are precisely the framework within which we have been pursuing
sustainable development up until now. They are the essence of an ecological modernization that has been
proven not to work. The pursuit of goals through indicators and smart technologies might
occasionally contribute to more effectively counteracting the effect of global socio-environmental
inequality, but cannot offer long-term solutions to local or global socio-environmental problems.
It is thus not surprising that an increasing number of citizens and communities across the world
are refusing to participate in immunological practices. They refuse the offer to be made resilient,
included, safe or sustainable. They refuse to be part of monitoring exercises. Instead, they demand
equality; and they generate equality. What the practices and methods mentioned in the previous sections
share in common is that they establish new hows when it comes to making communities safe, resilient,
sustainable or included. The actors involved refuse to be included because they demand more. They
demand to be co-decision makers in setting development goals, and in changing institutional practices and
frameworks. And they act upon this demand. They establish alternative practices and methods, alternative
hows. And they do this by presuming a position of equality in an increasingly unequal world.(
48
)
When Tracie Washington spread the message “Don’t call me resilient!” all over New Orleans,
this was a clear statement that she (and her community) were not prepared to be further immunized this
way. They demanded to become part of making the decisions that change the practices that created the
need to build resilience in the first place. When George Archontopoulos (one of the spokespeople for the
citizens’ water coalition and SOSte to NERO) offered a T-shirt featuring the water coalition’s anti-
privatization motto to the CEO of Suez Water (a bidder for Thessaloniki’s water company), stating that
all she would get from Greece was that T-shirt, he transcended his own everyday existence as a public
water company employee. In this act, he created and enacted a position of equality vis-à-vis the CEO of
one of the most powerful global water corporations because he assumed this equality. Instead of sitting
around the table to negotiate how he and his colleagues would be made resilient in the face of
anticipated redundancies and salary cuts after privatization, he, his colleagues and the broader citizens’
coalition took the question of rights to water a step beyond the pursuit of resilience, safety and
sustainability.
VI. IN SEARCH OF THE
REAL
SMART CITY: DISSENSUS AS A LIVING INDICATOR
“Has there ever been a society which has died of dissent? Several have died of conformity in our
lifetime.(
49
)
The movements and actors described in this article are a few among many across the world
establishing new methods that rupture previous subordinate positions(
50
) and practices. The knowledge
and methods they develop do not fit into existing agendas and debates, which are dominated by the design
of indicators or management and monitoring technologies in pursuit of sustainable development goals.
But if we are looking for real smart solutions and real social innovation, here they are in the methods,
practices and narratives these movements institute, and in the alternative ways they establish for
managing the commons.(
51
)
As alternative practices and methods proliferate across the world, as people refuse to take up pre-
prescribed development practices or pre-determined immunological protocols, this is a mature and
opportune moment to pay attention to socio-environmental innovations and methods forged not out of
social consensus, but out of social dissensus (e.g. out of wide-spreading practices of dissent).
Unlike methods assembled out of consensus-building exercises performed amongst the usual
suspects in the comfort of well-funded frameworks, the methods forged out of dissensusinvolve
painstaking efforts, and emerge when needs are so urgent that citizens are compelled to take on new roles
in order to take matters into their own hands. These instances and practices of dissensus can therefore
potentially act as living indicators, as signposts of what urgently needs to be addressed and where.
Potentially, the methods forged out of dissensuscan lead to instituting alternative means to tackle global
socio-environmental inequality. These emerging imaginaries of people and environments being and
working in common may offer far more efficient, direct and effective ways of addressing access to
housing, healthcare, education, water and clean air in urban settlements than any set of indicators or
techno-managerial solutions can offer.
As emphasis is continuously placed on data collection and “the need to systematically monitor
and report on the New Urban Agenda and SDGs’ indicators”, in order to “support a more informed
decision making”,(
52
) it becomes an academic, political and socio-environmental responsibility to start
asking different sets of questions. It becomes a matter of political urgency to systematically monitor,
document and take stock of dissensus-driven practices and methods. If we took these practices seriously,
if we worked with these living indicators and methods, we could maybe move beyond stale indicator
frameworks and immunological practices, and towards an urgency-driven framework of global socio-
environmental equality. We might fail again. We probably will. But at least we will have tried to fail
better.
BIOGRAPHY
Maria Kaika, University of Amsterdam, Department of Human Geography, Planning, and International
Development (GPIO), and University of Manchester, School of Environment, Education and
Development.
Address: Department of Human Geography, Planning and International Development (GPIO)
PO Box 15629 | 1001 NC Amsterdam | The Netherlands
e-mail: M.Kaika@uva.nl, maria.kaika@manchester.ac.uk
Acknowledgements: Many thanks to all the ENTITLE Mentors and Fellows for pushing the political
ecology agenda forward. Thanks also to Luca Bertolini, Hebe Verrest, Stefan Bouzarovski, Saska Petrova
and Erik Swyngedouw for their comments, as well as to David Satterthwaite, Sheridan Bartlett, Christine
Ro and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions, including bringing the case of Modi’s
smart cities initiative to my attention.
Funding: This research was supported by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Program (Marie
Curie Actions) under Grant 289374 (ENTITLE).
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1
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2
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3
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
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4
Cited in Di Bella, Arturo and Luca Ruggiero, “Néolibéralisme Et Développement
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5
See reference 4.
6
United Nations (2001), “Security Council Condemns Illegal Exploitation of Democratic Republic of
Congo’s Natural Resources”, Meetings Coverage and Press Releases, 4317th and 4318th Meetings (AM
and PM).
7
Yigitcanlar, Tan and Sang Ho Lee (2014), “Korean ubiquitous-eco-city: A smart-sustainable urban form
or a branding hoax?”, Technological Forecasting and Social Change Vol 89, pages 100114.
8
Pieterse, Edgar (2011), “Recasting Urban Sustainability in the South”', Development Vol 54, No 3,
pages 309316; also Martinez-Alier, Juan (1997), “Environmental Justice (Local and Global)”,
Capitalism Nature Socialism Vol 8, No 1, pages 91107; and Dooling, Sarah (2009), “Ecological
Gentrification: A Research Agenda Exploring Justice in the City”, International Journal of Urban and
Regional Research Vol 33, No 3, pages 621639.
9
Cugurullo, Federico (2016), “Urban Eco-Modernisation and the Policy Context of New Eco-City
Projects: Where Masdar City Fails and Why”, Urban Studies Vol 53, No 11, pages 24172433.
10
Amnesty International (2016), United Arab Emirates Annual Report 2015/16: Migrant Workers’
Rights.
11
Datta, Ayona (2015), “New Urban Utopias of Postcolonial India: ‘Entrepreneurial Urbanization’ in
Dholera Smart City, Gujarat”, Dialogues in Human Geography Vol 5, No 1, pages 322.
12
Greenfield, Adam (2015), “Zeroville-on-Khambhat, Or: The Clean Slate’s Cost”, Dialogues in Human
Geography Vol 5, No 1, pages 4044.
13
Harris, Andrew (2015), “Smart Ventures in Modi’s Urban India”, Dialogues in Human Geography Vol
5, No 1, pages 23–26; also Hoelscher, Kristian (2016), “The Evolution of the Smart Cities Agenda in
India”, International Area Studies Review Vol 19, No 1, pages 2844.
14
Greenberg, Miriam (2016), “Whose Ecotopia? The Challenge of Equity in Urban Sustainability
Planning”, in Julie Sze (editor), Situating Sustainability: Sciences/Humanities/Societies, Scales, and
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15
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16
Komninos, Nicos (2015), The Age of Intelligent Cities: Smart Environments and Innovation-for-All
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17
Kaika, Maria and Erik Swyngedouw (2011), “The Urbanization of Nature: Great Promises, Impasse,
and New Beginnings”, in Gary Bridge and Sophie Watson (editors), The New Blackwell Companion to
the City, Blackwell, Oxford, pages 96107.
18
FG-SSG is the focus group of the Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) of the UN’s
International Telecommunication Union (ITU), an agency specialized in ICTs.
19
Araña, Silvia Guzmán and Mythili Menon (2015), Smart Sustainable Cities: A Guide for City Leaders,
ITU-T Focus Group on Smart Sustainable Cities technical report, page 9.
20
The focus on cities as part of Goal 11 (“to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient
and sustainable”) is included in the conclusion of the negotiations on the post-2015 development agenda
outcome document, titled Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,
agreed by consensus at the informal meeting of the UN plenary on 2 August 2015. This document was
adopted as an annex in United Nations General Assembly (2015), Draft outcome document of the United
Nations summit for the adoption of the post 2015 development agenda, Sixty-ninth session A/69/L.85, 12
August.
21
https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/transformingourworld.
22
Keil, Roger (1998), Los Angeles: Globalization, Urbanization, and Social Struggles, John Wiley &
Sons Ltd, New York.
23
See reference 21; also see https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?menu=1300#.
24
United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) (2016),
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ition=inline&op=view.
25
Barnett, Clive and Susan Parnell (2016), “Ideas, implementation and indicators: epistemologies of the
post-2015 urban agenda”, Environment and Urbanization Vol 28, No 1, pages 8798.
26
Buckley, Robert M and Lena Simet (2016), “An Agenda for Habitat III: Urban Perestroika”,
Environment and Urbanization Vol 28, No 1, pages 6476.
27
United Nations Economic and Social Council (2016a), Report of the Inter Agency and Expert Group on
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2016 Supplement No 4, Statistical Commission, E/2016/24 -E/CN.3/2016/34, New York.
28
Habitat III Programme (2016), Measuring the New Urban Agenda and Sustainable Development
Goals: the City Prosperity Initiative, Tuesday 18th Session, accessed 21 October 2016 at
https://habitat3.org/programme/measuring-the-new-urban-agenda-and-sustainable-development-goals-
the-city-prosperity-initiative/.
29
See reference 24, Article 126, page 17.
30
See reference 25.
31
Hall, David, Emanuele Lobina and Robin de la Motte, “Public Resistance to Privatisation in Water and
Energy”, Development in Practice Vol 15, Nos 34, pages 286301.
32
Wollmann, Hellmut and Gérard Marcou (editors) (2010), The Provision of Public Services in Europe:
Between State, Local Government and Market, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK and Northampton, USA.
33
Crouch, Colin (2009), “Privatised Keynesianism: An Unacknowledged Policy Regime”, The British
Journal of Politics & International Relations Vol 11, No 3, pages 382399.
34
Desmond, Matthew (2012), “Eviction and the Reproduction of Urban Poverty”, American Journal of
Sociology Vol 118, No 1, pages 88–133; also García Lamarca, Melissa and Maria Kaika (2016), “
“Mortgaged Lives”: The Biopolitics of Debt and Housing Financialisation”, Transactions of the Institute
of British Geographers Vol 41, No 3, pages 313327.
35
Satterthwaite, David (2016), “A new urban agenda?”, Environment and Urbanization Vol 28, No 1,
pages 312.
36
Kaika, Maria (2003), “The Water Framework Directive: A New Directive for a Changing Social,
Political and Economic European Framework”, European Planning Studies Vol 11, No 3, pages 303320.
37
Feldman, Josh (2015), “MSNBC Guest: Stop Using the Word ‘Resilient’ to Describe Katrina Victims”,
Mediaite, 29 August.
38
Arup and The Rockefeller Foundation (2014), City Resilience Index, City Resilience Framework, Ove
Arup & Partners International Limited, page 3.
39
Notably the work of: Manyena, S B (2006), “The Concept of Resilience Revisited”, Disasters Vol 30,
No 4, pages 433–450; also Bouzarovski, S, J Salukvadze and M Gentile (2011), “A Socially Resilient
Urban Transition? The Contested Landscapes of Apartment Building Extensions in Two Post-Communist
Cities”, Urban Studies Vol 48, No 13, pages 2689–2714; Folke, Carl (2006), “Resilience: The Emergence
of a Perspective for Social–Ecological Systems Analyses”, Global Environmental Change, Vol 16, No 3,
pages 253–267; Olsson, P, V Galaz and W J Boonstra (2014), “Sustainability Transformations: A
Resilience Perspective”, Ecology and Society Vol 19, No 4, page 1; Petrova, Saska (2014), Communities
in Transition: Protected Nature and Local People in Eastern and Central Europe, Ashgate, Aldershot;
Johnson, Cassidy and Sophie Blackburn (2014), “Advocacy for urban resilience: UNISDR’s Making
Cities Resilient Campaign”, Environment and Urbanization Vol 26, No 1, pages 2952; Odemerho,
Francis O (2015), “Building climate change resilience through bottom-up adaptation to flood risk in
Warri, Nigeria”, Environment and Urbanization Vol 27, No 1, pages 139160; Gunderson, Lance H and
C S Holling (editors) (2002), Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems,
Island Press, Washington, DC; Pelling, Mark (2011), Adaptation to Climate Change: From Resilience to
Transformation, Routledge, London; Brown, Anna, Ashvin Dayal and Cristina Rumbaitis Del Rio (2012),
“From practice to theory: emerging lessons from Asia for building urban climate change resilience”,
Environment and Urbanization Vol 24, No 2, pages 531556; Satterthwaite, David and David Dodman
(2013), “Towards resilience and transformation for cities within a finite planet”, Environment and
Urbanization Vol 25, No 2, pages 291–298; Orach, Kirill and Maja Schlüter (2016), “Uncovering the
Political Dimension of Social-Ecological Systems: Contributions from Policy Process Frameworks”,
Global Environmental Change Vol 40, pages 1325; López-Marrero, Tania and Petra Tschakert (2011),
“From theory to practice: building more resilient communities in flood-prone areas”, Environment and
Urbanization Vol 23, No 1, pages 229–249; and Smit, Barry and Johanna Wandel (2006), “Adaptation,
Adaptive Capacity and Vulnerability”, Global Environmental Change Vol 16, No 3, pages 282292.
40
See reference 27, United Nations Economic and Social Council (2016a and 2016b).
41
Meeting held on 811 March at the UN headquarters in New York. See reference 27, United Nations
Economic and Social Council (2016a and 2016b).
42
Muchhala reports that the LDCs group, represented by Bangladesh in 2016, raised problems with
(amongst others) “indicator 17.8.1, “Proportion of individuals using the Internet” does not capture
target 17.8 which is to “Fully operationalize the technology bank and science, technology and innovation
capacity-building mechanism for least developed countries by 2017 and enhance the use of enabling
technology, in particular information and communications technology”.” The G77 and China group of
134 developing countries, represented by Thailand, was reported to have stressed that “the indicators
should be faithful to the SDGs and should not reinterpret its targets”. And the European Union,
represented by the Netherlands, stressed “methodological advancement and international comparability”
and “the importance of placing indicators in the technical domain”. Muchhala, Bhumika (2016), “DG
indicators challenged by many UN member states”, TWN Info Service on Health Issues, 24 March,
accessed 20 October 2016 at http://www.twn.my/title2/health.info/2016/hi160304.htm.
43
http://unstats.un.org/sdgs/iaeg-sdgs/open-consultation-4/, accessed 19 October 2016.
44
Velicu, Irina and Maria Kaika (2015), “Undoing Environmental Justice: Re-Imagining Equality in the
Rosia Montana Anti-Mining Movement”, Geoforum, DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2015.10.012.
45
See reference 34, García Lamarca and Kaika (2016).
46
Patel, Sheela, Jockin Arputham and Sheridan Bartlett (2016), “We beat the path by walking: how the
women of Mahila Milan in India learned to plan, design, finance and build housing”, Environment and
Urbanization Vol 28, No 1, pages 223240.
47
Esposito, Roberto (2013), Terms of the Political: Community, Immunity, Biopolitics, Fordham
University Press, New York.; see also Swyngedouw, Erik and Henrik Ernstson (submitted paper) “O
Tempora o Mores! Interrupting the Anthropo-obScene” paper submitted to Theory Culture and Society
48
Swyngedouw, Erik (2011), “Interrogating Post-Democratization: Reclaiming Egalitarian Political
Spaces”, Political Geography Vol 30, No 7, pages 270–280; also Swyngedouw, Erik (2014), “Where Is
the Political? Insurgent Mobilisations and the Incipient “Return of the Political” ”, Space and Polity Vol
18, No 2, pages 122–136; Kaika, Maria (2012), “The Economic Crisis Seen from the Everyday: Europe’s
Nouveau Poor and the Global Affective Implications of a ‘Local’ Debt Crisis”, City Vol 16, No 4, pages
422430; and Kaika, Maria and Lazaros Karaliotas ( 2016), “The Spatialization of Democratic Politics:
Insights from Indignant Squares”, European Urban and Regional Studies Vol 23, No 4, pages 556570
49
Bronowski, J (1956), Science and Human Values, Julian Messner, New York.
50
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... Similarly, many cities described as archetypes of resource efficiency like Masdar, Vauban, Bogota´, Johannesburg, etc, (cf. UNEP, 2013, 2018UN-Habitat, 2014) provide piecemeal outcomes without questioning global resource use and climate implications (see Kaika, 2017). These exemplars uncritically hinge on decoupling markets from their central tenets of inequality and ecological exploitation. ...
... However, such a 'restoration' does not consider the pre-existing unequal and exploitative status-quo (C40 Cities, 2019), as acknowledged in 'Build Back Better' initiatives (UNDRR, 2015). As Kaika (2017) highlights, resilience approaches like the City Resilience Index implicitly immunise communities to absorb further deprivation and ecological harm. Agenda 2030 also outlines resilience objectives to combat climate-related natural disasters focusing on integrated, inclusive, resource-efficient mitigation and adaptation plans in housing, among others (UN, 2015(UN, , 2017. ...
... These resilience responses can resemble degrowth in practice, by leaving urban populations to their own resources. However, resilience is also implemented through a raft of indicators as ends in themselves (Kaika, 2017). The UNDRR indicators for instance require the Global South to revamp financial capacities to meet benchmarks (UNDRR, 2019). ...
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Focusing on the United Nations’ Agenda 2030 and the New Urban Agenda, this commentary suggests that by engaging with degrowth, these mainstream policies can potentially provide alternative ecological values as climate responses. In turn, degrowth can also benefit from engaging with the multiple scales and sectors of these institutions for climate and planning practice. However, such multi-scalar engagements demand a repoliticisation of institutional and professional routines, processes and procedures.
... However, realizing it all is not easy. This requires real, effective, and smart solutions that are not built through a consensus but through broad differences according to the characteristics of each community (Kaika, 2017). Today, more than half of the world's population lives in urban areas. ...
... Therefore, in implementing a program in an area, it is important to deepen study of the characteristics of the community covering social, economic, and environmental aspects. This statement supports the research results of Kaika (2017). It is also necessary to initially identify whether there are community leaders who can give full support so that the program's goals and objectives can be achieved. ...
Article
This study aims to highlight innovative and sustainable measures in adaptation to climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic through integration into flood control efforts based on empirical data in Glintung Kampong, an informal flood-prone settlement in Indonesia and to explore what local wisdom values influence the success of the measures undertaken. This study was designed to use a mixed method combining qualitative and quantitative data. Qualitative data consists of in-depth interviews, observations, and desk studies. Quantitative data is used for the generalization of some qualitative data across a wider field. The study results show that the existence of drainage channel facilities from the government can trigger creative ideas and innovative measures in the community. Community involvement with their “guyub rukun” and “gotong royong” values is the most influential factor in determining the success of the program, followed by community leaders, the ability to adapt to flood risk, and the ability to establish good interactions with external parties.
... Lastly, new Anthropocene (Crutzen, 2002;Rockström et al., 2009) and Resilience (Folke et al., 2010) discourses have been criticised due to their limitation in integrating social science concepts such as agency, conflict, knowledge or power (Olsson et al., 2015). That has led to controversial issues like equalling sustainability to justice concept in development agenda, also to consensus and dissensions on whose conservation, why and for whom (Kaika, 2017;Mace, 2014). These are often controversial aspects in agricultural social context too. ...
Preprint
Communication and dissemination are key elements to maximise SHOWCASE project impact and ensure long‐term effects. For that, an effective communication strategy is essential to convey the principles and best practices to integrate biodiversity in farm management to favour farmers’ livelihoods while promoting conservation in agricultural landscapes. Current discourses around biodiversity, nature conservation and farming are contradictory with each other and not always engaging for SHOWCASE stakeholders. Thus, an inspirational narrative has been developed in the first months of the project by WP4 “Communicating the benefits of agrobiodiversity through multistakeholder knowledge exchange”, task 4.1. SHOWCASE narrative explains in an effective manner 1) why people care about biodiversity; 2) what we can do, and; 3) how we can do it better.
... Worsening UHIs in terms of both magnitude and inequality can be the result of authoritarian states, such as that of Thailand, pursuing neoliberal goals, such as rolling back or not enforcing environmental protections (McCarthy, 2019). Finally, our study suggests that instead of merely seeking to build urban resilience to climate risks, such as heat, we need to tease out the actors and processes that produce these risks (Kaika, 2017) and then work to mitigate the behaviour of these actor and change these structural processes. ...
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The intensity of Bangkok’s urban heat island during the dry season can be as high as 6–7° and in the densest areas the urban heat island’s intensity is approximately 4°C. The urban heat island thus is causing a city already oppressively hot to become even hotter. The urban heat island also contributes to health problems, such as heat stroke and fatigue, particularly to those with lower incomes. We historically examine the numerous causes of Bangkok’s urban heat island, such as the lack of green space, high levels of air conditioning, and high rates of vehicle exhaust fumes. For example, Bangkok has only three square metres of green space per person which is one of the lowest in all of Asia. Local governmental weaknesses, administrative fragmentation, prioritisation of economic growth and limited buy-in from the private sector have intensified Bangkok’s urban heat island, and imposed numerous barriers to actions that would reduce heat, such as establishing green space, restructuring urban transport or creating and following an effective urban plan. Ideas mooted to remedy these problems have yet to come to fruition, largely because of bureaucratic inertia, fragmentation and divisions within the relevant lead organisations. The political ecology lens also reveals how political–economic processes largely determine the vulnerability of urban inhabitants to heat, but also that thermal governance is highly unequal and unjust. Those who contribute to and profit the most from Bangkok’s urban heat island, such as real estate developers, shopping mall owners, and automobile corporations, suffer the least from its effects, whereas low-income communities hardly contribute to this problem, yet are the most vulnerable.
... I don't want to be resilient [...]. I want to fix the things that create the need for us to be resilient in the first place" (cited in Kaika 2017). ...
Research
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Cahier 7 reports on the roundtable discussion organized and convened by Angeliki Paidakaki within the frame of the RC21 Conference “Ordinary Cities in Exceptional Times” that took place between the 24th and 26th of August, 2022, in Athens (Greece). Angeliki facilitated exchanges between scholars and practitioners from both sides of the Atlantic on the resilient and just city in times of “crisis” and “normalcy”. The discussants reflected – from a transatlantic perspective – on their political role and advocacy experiences as practitioners in the non-profit housing sector, and also shared their views on the potential of transdisciplinary/action research in enhancing urban scholars’ long-term societal and spatial impact in and through their interactions with civil society organizations in the field. The well-esteemed discussants of the roundtable discussion were: Andreanecia Morris (Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance), Flozell Daniels (Foundation for Louisiana), Lazaros Petromelidis (Greek Housing Network), Nefeli- Myrto Pandiri (ARSIS – Association for the Social Support of Youth) and Nik Theodore (University of Illinois at Chicago).
... Through this research we have looked at ways in which the local food system in New London County demonstrated resilience in a crisis, but we also saw a need to take a critical look at the concept of food system resilience. It is necessary to look past the coping and survival mechanisms of individual actors to consider what makes that survival necessary (Kaika, 2017). Even if they are somewhat precarious actors in the larger food system, small-scale farmers in New London County were able to adapt to the crisis situation that the pandemic created. ...
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The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the weak­nesses of the U.S. national food system, with grocery store shelves emptied in March and April 2020 and COVID outbreaks reported throughout the summer of 2020 at meat processing plants across the country. Fleetingly, Americans turned to local farms to ensure they could access food safely in a time of uncertainty. This paper examines the economies of community that formed around local farms and how direct engagements between con­sumers and producers in the face of the pandemic deepened these economic structures that often put community well-being above profits. Within a capitalist system that prioritizes efficient mass production, economies of community illustrate that solidarity can improve local food system resilience. Based on qualitative and quantitative research carried out in the summer of 2020 in New London County in southeastern Connecticut, this research draws on ethnographic interviews with small-scale farmers who developed innovative ways to feed some of their community’s most vulnerable members. Community economies show that we should not only depend on standardized large-scale farms and giant retail distribution; the American food system needs to continue to cultivate small-scale local production in order to improve re­silience and food access. At present, the sus­tainability of producing and distributing food occurs at the farmer’s expense. The government needs to support local food producers so they can continue to play an integral part in community well-being.
... Nevertheless, this "technocratic depoliticisation of governance" (Swyngedouw 2011) is contested by a number of critical geographers and planners dealing with urban (and suburban) environmental justice (Basta 2015;Bulkeley, Castan Broto, Edwards 2015;Coppola et al. 2021;Gandy 2018;Hodson, Marvin 2009;Kaika 2017;Keil 2020;Satterthwaite, Dodman 2013;Soja 2010). Moreover, a variety of experiences of resistance and reclamation "from below" (De Rosa 2017) oppose technocratic (and other) forms of environmental violence, as we will see in the next section. ...
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Elaborating on the literature on environmental violence produced by a variety of disciplines (e.g. political ecology, peace and conflict studies, environmental history, sociology of science, urban and territorial planning), this chapter gives an overview of the multiple facets of the concept before focusing on less visible forms of environmental violence, such as slow/infrastructural/narrative violence. Such forms of violence are investigated in their relation to social inequalities, spatial injustice, environmental racism, and legal procrastination. By recognising the importance of territorial specificities in their interplay with conceptual development, the chapter draws on real examples from a variety of contexts around the world, thus showing the complexity of the observed phenomena. As these cases show, environmental violence is contrasted by a vast repertoire of forms of resistance, from grassroots initiatives promoted by local inhabitants turned into activists to legal innovations at the international level. Eventually, the chapter calls for a reflection on the role of social science in contrasting environmental violence and in producing critical theory against new technocratic and exploitative forms of control of nature.
... While not unproblematic, this scale of action has brought much inspiration in terms of making more just and sustainable cities. Finally, rather than focus on consensus-building in urban government, cities may find that monitoring social dissensus and disagreement can shed light on the various dimensions of unfit institutional structures and help us to radically change institutional practices and frameworks by genuinely integrating excluded groups as co-decision-makers (Kaika 2017). ...
Book
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This book uses a unique typology of ten core drivers of injustice to explore and question common assumptions around what urban sustainability means, how it can be implemented, and how it is manifested in or driven by urban interventions that hinge on claims of sustainability. Aligned with critical environmental justice studies, the book highlights the contradictions of urban sustainability in relation to justice. It argues that urban neighbourhoods cannot be greener, more sustainable and liveable unless their communities are strengthened by the protection of the right to housing, public space, infrastructure and healthy amenities. Linked to the individual drivers, ten short empirical case studies from across Europe and North America provide a systematic analysis of research, policy and practice conducted under urban sustainability agendas in cities such as Barcelona, Glasgow, Athens, Boston and Montréal, and show how social and environmental justice is, or is not, being taken into account. By doing so, the book uncovers the risks of continuing urban sustainability agendas while ignoring, and therefore perpetuating, systemic drivers of inequity and injustice operating within and outside of the city. Accessibly written for students in urban studies, critical geography and planning, this is a useful and analytical synthesis of issues relating to urban sustainability, environmental and social justice. The Open Access version of this book, available at http://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/e/9781003221425, has been made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license. Funded by Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona Table of Contents Driver 1: Material and Livelihood Inequalities Driver 2: Racialized or Ethnically Exclusionary Urbanization Driver 3: Uneven Urban and Intensification and Regeneration Driver 4: Uneven Environmental Health and Pollution Patterns Driver 5: Exclusive Access to the Benefits of Urban Sustainability Infrastructure Driver 6: Unfit Institutional Structures Driver 7: Weakened Civil Society Driver 8: Limited Citizen Participation Driver 9: Power-Knowledge Asymmetries Driver 10: The Growth Imperative and Neoliberal Urbanism The book is fully open access here: https://www.routledge.com/Injustice-in-Urban-Sustainability-Ten-Core-Drivers/Kotsila-Anguelovski-Garcia-Lamarca-Sekulova/p/book/9781032117621
Book
This two-volume set, IFIP AICT 663 and 664, constitutes the thoroughly refereed proceedings of the International IFIP WG 5.7 Conference on Advances in Production Management Systems, APMS 2022, held in Gyeongju, South Korea in September 2022. The 139 full papers presented in these volumes were carefully reviewed and selected from a total of 153 submissions. The papers of APMS 2022 are organized into two parts. The topics of special interest in the first part included: AI & Data-driven Production Management; Smart Manufacturing & Industry 4.0; Simulation & Model-driven Production Management; Service Systems Design, Engineering & Management; Industrial Digital Transformation; Sustainable Production Management; and Digital Supply Networks. The second part included the following subjects: Development of Circular Business Solutions and Product-Service Systems through Digital Twins; “Farm-to-Fork” Production Management in Food Supply Chains; Urban Mobility and City Logistics; Digital Transformation Approaches in Production Management; Smart Supply Chain and Production in Society 5.0 Era; Service and Operations Management in the Context of Digitally-enabled Product-Service Systems; Sustainable and Digital Servitization; Manufacturing Models and Practices for Eco-Efficient, Circular and Regenerative Industrial Systems; Cognitive and Autonomous AI in Manufacturing and Supply Chains; Operators 4.0 and Human-Technology Integration in Smart Manufacturing and Logistics Environments; Cyber-Physical Systems for Smart Assembly and Logistics in Automotive Industry; and Trends, Challenges and Applications of Digital Lean Paradigm.
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Во всем мире быстро растет популярность искусственного интеллекта (ИИ) и его применение, под которым подразумевается технология, имитирующая поведение, обычно ассоциируемое с человеческим интеллектом. Сегодня системы на основе ИИ используются в самых разных областях — от маркетинга до банковского дела и финансов, от сельского хозяйства до здравоохранения и безопасности, от исследований космоса до робототехники и транспорта, от чат-ботов до машиностроения и машинного творчества. В последнее время системы на основе ИИ также начинают становиться неотъемлемой частью многих городских служб. Городской искусственный интеллект управляет транспортными системами городов, ресторанами и магазинами, где на повседневном уровне разворачивается городская жизнь, ремонтирует городскую инфраструктуру и управляет сферами городского хозяйства, такими как дорожное движение, мониторинг качества воздуха, вывоз мусора и энергетика. Ожидается, что в наступившую эпоху неопределенности и сложности все более широкое внедрение ИИ продолжится, а значит, будет расти и его влияние на устойчивость развития наших городов. В данной работе устойчивость ИИ критически исследуется и проблематизируется в контексте умных и устойчивых городов. Авторы предлагают ряд соображений касательно появившихся недавно городских искусственных интеллектов и потенциального симбиоза между ИИ и умным и устойчивым урбанизмом. С точки зрения методологии статья представляет собой обзор текущего состояния литературы, исследований, разработок, тенденций и приложений, связанных с ИИ и умным и устойчивым городом. Таким образом, она является вкладом в актуальные академические дискуссии вокруг умных и устойчивых городов и ИИ. Кроме того, проливая свет на распространение ИИ в городах, данная статья призвана помочь городским политикам, градостроителям и гражданам принимать информированные решения о внедрении ИИ, ориентированного на устойчивое развитие.
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This article focuses on the emergence of ‘low‐carbon’ gentrification as a distinct urban phenomenon, a process that we see as the outcome of efforts to change the social and spatial composition of urban districts under the pretext of responding to climate change and energy efficiency imperatives. The article develops a conceptual framework for scrutinizing low‐carbon gentrification, predicated upon insights from literatures on ecological gentrification and displacement. It documents the existence of an ‘eco‐social paradox’ associated with new patterns of socio‐spatial segregation and energy efficiency retrofits. We interrogate the discursive and policy frameworks, socio‐spatial implications and political contestations of low‐carbon gentrification. Evidence is drawn from case study research in an inner‐city district of the Polish city of Gdańsk, where such processes have been unfolding since 2006 due to the implementation of a targeted urban regeneration programme. This investigation is positioned within a wider analysis of secondary written sources about similar developments in other geographical contexts across Europe and North America, where anecdotal evidence suggests that low‐carbon gentrification may be widespread and common.
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This book concludes a trilogy that began with Intelligent Cities: Innovation, Knowledge Systems and digital spaces (Routledge 2002) and Intelligent Cities and Globalisation of Innovation Networks (Routledge 2008). Together these books examine intelligent cities as environments of innovation and collaborative problem-solving. In this final book, the focus is on planning, strategy and governance of intelligent cities. Divided into three parts, each section elaborates upon complementary aspects of intelligent city strategy and planning. Part I is about the drivers and architectures of the spatial intelligence of cities, while Part II turns to planning processes and discusses top-down and bottom-up planning for intelligent cities. Cities such as Amsterdam, Manchester, Stockholm and Helsinki are examples of cities that have used bottom-up planning through the gradual implementation of successive initiatives for regeneration. On the other hand, Living PlanIT, Neapolis in Cyprus, and Saudi Arabia intelligent cities have started with the top-down approach, setting up urban operating systems and common central platforms. Part III focuses on intelligent city strategies; how cities should manage the drivers of spatial intelligence, create smart environments, mobilise communities, and offer new solutions to address city problems. Main findings of the book are related to a series of models which capture fundamental aspects of intelligent cities making and operation. These models consider structure, function, planning, strategies toward intelligent environments and a model of governance based on mobilisation of communities, knowledge architectures, and innovation cycles.
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The success of the campaign for a dedicated urban Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) reflected a consensus on the importance of “cities” in sustainable development. The relevance accorded to cities in the SDGs is twofold, reflected both in the specific place-based content of the Urban Goal and the more general concern with the multiple scales at which the SDGs will be monitored will be institutionalized. Divergent views of the city and urban processes, suppressed within the Urban Goal, are, however, likely to become more explicit as attention shifts to implementation. Acknowledging the different theoretical traditions used to legitimize the new urban agenda is an overdue task. As this agenda develops post-2015, the adequacy of these forms of urban theory will become more contested around, among other concerns, the possibilities and limits of place-based policy, advocacy and activism; and ways of monitoring and evaluating processes of urban transformation along multiple axes of development.
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This paper considers the collective knowledge about housing design and construction that was developed over 30 years by the Indian Alliance of the Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC), Mahila Milan and the National Slum Dwellers’ Federation (NSDF) in its pursuit of secure shelter for the pavement dwellers in Mumbai, the most vulnerable people in the city. It traces the learning and innovations developed by these women pavement dwellers, mostly illiterate, in this one specific aspect of their much larger joint journey towards a safe, secure home in the city, something that seemed almost inconceivable when they began. The deeply political aspects of this larger journey are only briefly touched on here, allowing space to describe the hands-on learning about planning, design and building that was also essential in this process. The paper is one of an ongoing series tracing the work of this Indian partnership since 1986, examining the critical milestones that have emerged from discussion, reflections and collective exploration.
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In this reflection on Ayona Datta’s article on ‘New Urban Utopias’, I consider the specific ideological work the notion of the ‘smart city’ does when transplanted onto Indian soil as the development project of Dholera. I explore how the desire on the part of Dholera’s promoters to sanitize the site’s history, and efface the legacy of displacements and expulsions on which the planned megacity will be built, parallels a collective desire for forgetting on the part of Gujarat, Narendra Modi (then Gujarati Chief Minister and now Indian Prime Minister) and the nation itself.
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Abstract Research on the governance of social-ecological systems often emphasizes the need for self-organized, flexible and adaptive arrangements to deal with uncertainty, abrupt change and surprises that are characteristic of social-ecological systems. However, adaptive governance as well as transitions toward alternative forms of governance are embedded in politics and it is often the political processes that determine change and stability in governance systems and policy. This paper analyses five established theoretical frameworks of the policy process originating in political science and public policy research with respect to their potential to enhance understanding of governance and complex policy dynamics in social-ecological systems. The frameworks are found to be divergent in their conceptualization of policy change (focusing on incremental or large-scale, major changes), highlighting different aspects of bounded rationality in their model of individual behavior and focusing their attention on different aspects of the policy process (role of information, attention, beliefs, institutional structure, particular actors, etc.). We discuss the application of these frameworks and their potential contribution to unravelling the political dimension in adaptive governance and transformations.
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With the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, urban-led economic growth in India was firmly framed around a vision of ‘smart cities’, an ambiguous concept, which promotes the integration of information and communication technologies in cities to improve economic growth, quality of life, governance, mobility and sustainability. Given its current policy importance, this article examines how the smart cities agenda in India has emerged, what it has encompassed and its potential for transformative urban development. Reviewing policy documents and statements in combination with selected key stakeholder interviews, this article traces the emergence of the smart cities discourse in India, suggesting that the vision and concept of the smart city has shifted over time and has been evoked in different ways to serve different purposes. Overall, the smart cities agenda in India appears to be characterized by a failure to conceptualize and develop an integrated set of policies, and while a clearer (yet contested) concept is emerging, the prospects for success are uncertain.
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In order to develop a constructive new urban agenda (NUA), the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) must move beyond sterile proclamations, and acknowledge what we have learned since previous Habitat meetings – that urban policy significantly influences inclusive economic growth. A new urban agenda that takes new research and understandings into account could be like investments in health in terms of the high rate of return. More than that, changes in urban regulations and in the way subsidies are targeted could allow most of the desired gains to be realized without additional resources. An NUA, in other words, could be like perestroika for cities. Indeed, it could support a “restructuring” that is both more manageable and more fundamental than other, more popular, growth strategies. By examining a number of case studies, the paper demonstrates that a central message of Habitat III should be that better urban policy is much more than just a claim on public resources, it can be an important way to achieve inclusive growth.
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The impacts of climate change are already being felt. Learning how to live with these impacts is a priority for human development. In this context, it is too easy to see adaptation as a narrowly defensive task - protecting core assets or functions from the risks of climate change. A more profound engagement, which sees climate change risks as a product and driver of social as well as natural systems, and their interaction, is called for. Adaptation to Climate Change argues that, without care, adaptive actions can deny the deeper political and cultural roots that call for significant change in social and political relations if human vulnerability to climate change associated risk is to be reduced. This book presents a framework for making sense of the range of choices facing humanity, structured around resilience (stability), transition (incremental social change and the exercising of existing rights) and transformation (new rights claims and changes in political regimes). The resilience-transition-transformation framework is supported by three detailed case study chapters. These also illustrate the diversity of contexts where adaption is unfolding, from organizations to urban governance and the national polity. This text is the first comprehensive analysis of the social dimensions to climate change adaptation. Clearly written in an engaging style, it provides detailed theoretical and empirical chapters and serves as an invaluable reference for undergraduate and postgraduate students interested in climate change, geography and development studies.