Urban Land Institute

About Resilience


What is Resilience?

Resilience is “the ability to prepare and plan for, absorb, recover from, and more successfully adapt to adverse events.” The National Academy of Sciences first coined this definition, and it has been adopted by the Urban Land Institute as well as other organizations focused on the built environment, such as the American Planning Association and the American Institute of Architects. As severe weather events become more frequent and intense due to climate change, resilience has become an increasingly important issue for cities, as well as all people involved in decision making about the built environment, including real estate developers, designers, planners, elected officials, and others.

Enhancing resilience entails designing buildings, infrastructure, parks and public spaces that are prepared for extreme events such as hurricanes, as well as the longer-term impacts of climate change, such as sea-level rise and extreme temperatures. Urban populations are highly vulnerable to these risks, particularly low-income and otherwise marginalized communities, who are likely to struggle the most after an extreme weather event and may live in areas more vulnerable to flooding or other environmental risks. Investments in resilience, including those implemented by the public sector, public-private partnerships and the private sector, offer the opportunity to protect all those at-risk and safeguard the economic development opportunities in cities.

Investing in resilient design can also offer other economic, environmental, and social benefits explored in the project briefs on this website, such as enhanced operational efficiencies, an improved public realm, reduced insurance expenses and operating costs, and other outcomes.

ULI and Urban Resilience

The Urban Resilience program is a part of the ULI Randall Lewis Center for Sustainability in Real Estate.

The Urban Resilience program looks at how cities, buildings and communities can prepare for the expected effects of climate change. From rising sea levels to more frequent storms to extended droughts, the changing climate poses short- and long-term risks and opportunities for real estate development and urban planning. The program draws expertise from ULI members to provide resources and strategies to mitigate those risks at the building and city scales, as well as seeks to create a more resilient and durable vision for community development.

To see all areas of ULI’s Urban Resilience program work, visit the program’s page on the ULI website here.

About ULI’s Urban Resilience Work