Prepared for adversity

© Oriol Malet

Ten years ago Barcelona experienced one of its most dramatic moments in recent times. Tunnelling works on the city metro Line 9 disrupted the foundations of several residential buildings in the Carmel neighbourhood, and more than a thousand residents had to be evacuated and the works halted.

Two years later, between 2007 and 2008, the city suffered yet more critical incidents, bringing the vulnerabilities of city services and infrastructure into sharp relief: there was a risk of severe drought that forced the city to bring in drinking water by ship, a power cut caused by an overloaded transformer station that resulted in a string of power failures in the electricity grid and a chaotic episode in the transport sector when high-speed rail works at Sants Station triggered delays to train services.

All these upheavals in such a short period of time combined to intensify awareness of the need for a risk detection and prevention plan. In order to improve reactive capacity and the city’s ability to respond to future adversity, the municipal government set in motion a strategic plan.

One of the results of this initiative is that Barcelona has become the first city in the world to create an urban resilience department, earning it the reputation as a leader in the field. Barcelona has been the headquarters for the UN-Habitat’s City Resilience Profiling Programme since 2013. The city is also participating in the 100 Resilient Cities project as of this year, having been selected by the Rockefeller Foundation, which is contributing 100 million dollars to urban resilience programmes.

  • Resilience: prevention, mitigation, recovery
  • Beyond resilience
  • Five acts of resilience
  • An international cooperation network

Bernat Puigtobella

Barcelona Metròpolis Editor

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