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NESC publishes research paper no 22: Long-term Resilient and Sustainable Cities A Scoping Paper


Long-term Resilient and Sustainable Cities A Scoping Paper

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Resilient Cities Are Getting Ready

It is time to put the spotlight on cities on the island of Ireland, and internationally, to show how they are preparing to meet 21st century challenges.  Belfast, Bristol and Milan are among the cities getting ready by focusing on resilience. They are developing socio-economic, environmental and climate resilience strategies, designed to  adapt to stresses and shocks.

There is no single blueprint on how to do this and every city is unique but a new research paper published today by NESC, identifies some of key things that leading cities are doing.  Planning local responses, for example, by carrying out detailed urban risk assessments, is helping to address global challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, economic pressures due to Covid-19 and the drive to become more sustainable, through action on delivering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The cities are using resilience frameworks, breaking down silos and helping to provide a pathway to a better and stronger economy and environment but also contributing to better health and wellbeing and a just transition.

Building Long Term Resilient and Sustainable Cities by Caroline Creamer, Niall Connolly and Zaira Rivera Fernandez from Maynooth University explores the conditions required to enable cities to build resilience. The research paper looks at actions needed to make cities resilient and liveable places, by prioritising the inter-relationship between people and place, especially the natural environment.

In welcoming the paper, the Director of NESC Dr Larry O’Connell said that ‘this fascinating paper highlights what some cities are doing to build resilience. This includes investing in place-based leadership, such as dedicated Resilience leaders.  These cities are also investing in ways to generate a collective response, such as Innovation Zones, Sounding Boards and deep and meaningful processes to support engagement between the public sector, businesses, academics and communities.  In Bristol, the process of developing the resilience strategy drew together strategic partners and stakeholders from across the city and region to co-create innovative ways in which co-benefits can be delivered. Other cities join strong international networks- for example, Belfast’s Resilient City initiative came out of being part of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 cities initiative.’

To launch this paper, NESC and Maynooth University are co-hosting a Roundtable on Understanding Resilient and Sustainable Cities, moderated by the World Economic Forum’s Alice Charles. At the event, Dr O’Connell said ‘this Roundtable provides an opportunity to share innovative practices in cities, led by local authorities and to engage in dialogue on ways to strengthen resilience on the island of Ireland.’

Note to Editors:

About the Research Paper

Building Long Term Resilient and Sustainable Cities is by Caroline Creamer, Director, International Centre for Local and Regional Development (ICLRD) and Research Fellow with Maynooth University Social Sciences Institute, Dr Niall Connolly, Research Fellow, Innovation Value Institute (IVI), Maynooth University and Zaira Rivera Fernandez PhD Candidate, Lero: the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Software, Maynooth University. The paper reviews policy, research and practice on resilience cities, includes case studies of three cities and interviews with public servants within local government and government agencies on the island of Ireland. It provides a case study of Belfast City’s resilience programme, supported by the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 cities initiative. Belfast is the only city on the Island of Ireland that has a formal Resilient City initiative.  However, other cities on the island are actively working towards becoming more climate, socio-economic and environmentally resilient.

About the National Economic and Social Council (NESC)

The National Economic & Social Council (NESC) was established in 1973.  NESC is an expert advisory and consultative body, focusing on strategic economic, social and environmental policies.  The Council was set up to analyse and report to the Taoiseach on strategic issues relating to the efficient development of the economy, the achievement of social justice and environmental sustainability.  It addresses the public system and the institutional challenges related to implementation, monitoring and learning.  It is chaired by the Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach.  The members of the Council are appointed by the Taoiseach, for a three year term.  They are representatives of business and employers’ organisations, trade unions, agricultural and farming organisations, community and voluntary organisations, and environmental organisations; as well as heads of Government departments and independent experts.  The Council has published 149 agreed reports on a wide range of policy issues, as well as research papers by its professional Secretariat and other experts.  As part of its work programme, NESC has explored ways strengthen sustainability and resilience in rural and urban contexts, as outlined in the recent Council Statement Grounding the Recovery in Sustainable Development. This work is supported by research funding from the Department of Environment, Climate Action and Communications. NESC is also undertaking research to contribute to building a shared knowledge base and understanding about possible ways in which greater cooperation can emerge across a number of economic, social and environmental areas in Ireland, North and South, and also between these islands East and West. This work is ongoing as part of NESC’s Shared Island project, to support the work of the Government’s Shared Island Initiative.


For further information, please contact:


Dr Larry O’Connell, Director


T: 01 8146332

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