Urban Resilience in Action

Understanding the translation from urban resilience strategies to practice.

Cities are increasingly facing unprecedented challenges linked to issues such as rapid population growth, environmental degradation, extreme weather events and growing social inequalities. There is wide agreement amongst researchers and policy makers that a resilient city requires innovative actions to adapt and transform its systems for providing services such as mobility, energy, green space and housing. But can a city plan for such innovation to happen, and if so, how?

During the last few years numerous cities worldwide have initiated urban resilience strategies to identify context-specific challenges and to develop suitable actions. Drawing on the lack of knowledge on how these new city strategies are translated into practice, this research project seeks to better understand the new forms and mechanisms of urban resilience in action.

Assessing selected Actions of the Resilient Melbourne Strategy provides the opportunity to gain in-depth insights into structures and processes of urban resilience practices. Originally embedded in the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities network, the Resilient Melbourne strategy aims to cope with challenges and vulnerabilities in fields such as housing, transport, energy or health. The project looks closely at the role of Resilient Melbourne as a change agent and broker in the urban innovation system that must include all constituencies of metropolitan Melbourne.

Aims and Activities

Based on in-depth document analyses and stakeholder interviews/workshops, the project explores selected Resilient Melbourne Strategy Actions to better understand the structures and mechanisms of innovative urban experiments for resilience. The research focuses on the roles of a variety of stakeholders and their interests and capabilities, processes of knowledge creation and transfer, and challenges and barriers in implementing the Actions. The results will help to provide policy recommendation for urban resilience actions by demonstrating:

  • added values and advantages in delivering resilience actions in a metropolitan city region
  • partnerships and networks
  • drivers and challenges of urban resilience actions
  • skills and competences needed to deliver urban resilience actions
  • transferability and mechanisms of scaling up
  • assessing future urban resilience actions

Related publications

Braun, B., Fastenrath, S. (2020) Resilientes Melbourne. Nachhaltigkeit und naturbasierte Strategien der Stadtentwicklung in Australien. Geographische Rundschau 72 (10), 10-15.

Fastenrath, S., Bush, J., Coenen, L. (2020) Scaling-up nature-based solutions. Lessons from the Living Melbourne strategyGeoforum.

Fastenrath, S. & Coenen, L. (2020) Future-proof cities through governance experiments? Insights from the Resilient Melbourne Strategy (RMS)Regional Studies.

Bush, J. Coffey, B. Fastenrath, S. (2020) Governing urban greening at a metropolitan scale: an analysis of the Living Melbourne strategyAustralian Planner.

Fastenrath, S. Acuto, M. Coenen, L. & Keele, S. (2019) What next after 100 Resilient Cities funding ends? The Conversation.

Fastenrath, S. Coenen, L. Davidson, K. (2019) Urban Resilience in Action: the Resilient Melbourne Strategy as Transformative Urban Innovation Policy? Sustainability. 11 (3), 693.

von Wirth, T. Fuenfschilling, L. Frantzeskaki, N. & Coenen, L. (2018) Impacts of urban living labs on sustainability transitions: mechanisms and strategies for systemic change through experimentation. European Planning Studies, 1-29.

Davidson, K. & Gleeson, B. (2017) New Socio-ecological Imperatives for Cities: Possibilities and Dilemmas for Australian Metropolitan Governance. Urban Policy and Research.

Frantzeskaki, N. Castan Broto, V. Coenen, L. Loorbach, D. (eds) (2017) Urban Sustainability Transitions. Routledge Sustainability Transitions book series.


Disruptive innovation through urban experimentation? Case studies from ‘Resilient Melbourne’. Presented by Dr Sebastian Fastenrath and Prof Lars Coenen, at the Geographies of Disruption Symposium, Macquarie University, April 2018.


Dr Sebastian Fastenrath
Research Fellow in Resilient Cities, MSSI, University of Melbourne