TRS.20.024 – Addressing wicked challenges in urban disaster governance: towards an inclusive approach

Route: Towards resilient societies

Cluster question: 055 How do we protect ourselves against natural disasters (such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and floods)?

The earthquakes in Haiti (2010) and Nepal (2015) have shown the vulnerability of cities for disaster. Many more disasters, like floods, droughts and fire, endanger the liveability of cities and negatively affect the sustainable development goals. Urban disaster governance is not adjusted to changing conditions due to climate change, displacement and rapid population growth. The current COVID-19 pandemic further reveals the vulnerable position of millions of people living in informal urban settlements in the global South. While this is known among scholars and policy makers, disaster governance often prioritizes the protection of the city-centre infrastructure over making vulnerable people, such as elderly, poor and displaced, in the suburbs resilient. This project treats local urban communities and stakeholders not as the objects of study, but as the co-creators of its approach, interventions and follow ups.

This project aims to improve urban disaster governance and make it more responsive to vulnerable populations. The consortium contains expertise from disaster management, sociology, urban governance, information systems to work with academic and non-academic stakeholders in three cities (Beira, Manilla and Kabul) in the global south. After a year of diagnosis, including a pilot study in the Hague, a network of urban living labs will be established in which disaster management is geared to urban resilience. Insights generated will be used to produce theory and guidelines for urban disaster governance more broadly. The outcome of the project will be a network of urban living labs focused on disaster governance that will enable the implementation and testing of local interventions on the one hand, and the exchange of lessons learned and good practices beyond the boundaries of the local living lab on the other hand. The project contributes to the Netherlands Science Agenda, namely ‘towards resilient societies’, ‘sustainable development goals for inclusive global development’, and ‘smart-liveable cities’.


collaborative governance, disaster management, inclusive, resilient cities, urban living labs

Other organisations

Afghanistan Public Policy Research Organization, Cordaid, Eduardo Mondlane University Maputo, Erasmus Universiteit (EUR), Hogeschool van Amsterdam (HvA), International Institute of Social Studies (ISS)., KUNO: the Platform for Humanitarian Knowledge Exchange, Municipality of the Hague, Netherlands Red Cross, The University of the Philippines Diliman Resilience Institute, UNESCO, University of Technology Delft (TUD), Vereniging van Nederlandse Gemeenten, VNG


Organisation Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)
Name Dr. F.K. (Kees) Boersma