Social equity in urban resilience planning

Sara Meerow, Pani Pajouhesh, Thaddeus R. Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

152 Scopus citations


A growing number of cities are incorporating resilience into their plans and policies to respond to shocks, stresses, and uncertainties. While some scholars advocate for the potential of resilience research and practice, others argue that it promotes an inherently conservative and neoliberal agenda, prevents systemic transformations, and pays insufficient attention to power, politics, and justice. Notably, critics of the urban resilience agenda argue that policies fail to adequately address social equity issues. This study seeks to inform these debates by providing a cross-sectional analysis of how issues of equity are incorporated into urban resilience planning. We develop a tripartite framework of equity that includes distributional, recognitional, and procedural dimensions and use it to analyse the goals, priorities, and strategies of formal resilience plans created by member cities of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities programme. Our analysis reveals considerable variation in the extent to which cities focus on equity, implying that resilience may be more nuanced than some critics suggest. There are, however, clear areas for improvement. Dominant conceptions of equity are generally tied to a distributional orientation, with less focus on the recognitional and procedural dimensions. We hope our conceptual framework and lessons learned from this study can inform more just resilience planning and provide a foundation for future research on the equity implications of resilience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)793-808
Number of pages16
JournalLocal Environment
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2019


  • Resilience
  • justice
  • planning
  • social equity
  • urban sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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