Characterization of partnerships and collaborations in US cities' urban resilience plans


  • Arizona State University


Resilience, Urban planning, Partnership, Collaboration, Document analysis, Sustainability



The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) number 13 calls for urgent action to combat climate change impacts. Urban resilience planning documents often articulate partnerships and collaborations (P&Cs) as critical strategies. This study aims to identify the actors, the topics, processes, and visions of collaboration.


This paper explores the characterization of urban resilience partnerships via a thematic content analysis of resilience strategy documents produced in US cities through the 100 Resilient Cities Project.


P&Cs are defined broadly, taking several forms to meet various objectives. They act as boundary objects engaging across social groups, but the details of the P&Cs are rarely articulated, which is problematic for their implementation. P&Cs are commonly discussed in relation to the focus of the work; therefore, they less often define the specific actors, processes or transformative visions involved.

Research limitations/implications

This research focuses only on the resilience plans written in US cities, showing the perspective of US policymakers. Documents analyzed were produced via the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities Project.

Practical implications

Understanding and categorizing the who, what, when and why of P&Cs for urban resilience provide a deeper understanding of how these strategies are being described and offer a starting point for tangibly actualizing partnerships and collaborations outside planning documents.

Social implications

To reach vital urban resilience goals, P&Cs must be designed and managed appropriately. Understanding the shortcoming of current P&C policies can help managers mitigate problems and find better approaches.


To the best of the author’s knowledge, this paper is the first to analyze how P&Cs are being articulated and described in urban resilience plans. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number 13 calls for urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. As urbanization continues and the effects of climate change escalate, city governments are finding themselves responsible for the resilience of large populations. To cope, increasing numbers of municipalities are developing urban resilience plans. These documents often articulate partnerships and collaborations (P&Cs) as critical strategies for enhancing resilience capacity and implementing resilience policies. Although specific case studies of resilience-related collaborative practices are well documented in urban resilience literature, little is known about the proliferation of P&C strategies collectively. Furthermore, questions remain regarding the characterization of resilience P&Cs by practitioners, including who is involved and what types of projects they undertake. Therefore, this analysis explores urban resilience P&Cs via a thematic content analysis of resilience strategy documents produced in 16 US cities through the 100 Resilient Cities Project. Results indicate that cities prioritize P&Cs in resilience policy implementation, but they often fall short in defining the key components of P&Cs that are vital to their success. The analysis exposes the most common actors, topics, processes and visions described in resilience P&Cs and makes recommendations for how urban resilience P&Cs can be improved in the future.


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Further reading

Caughman, L., Plemmons, N., Beaudoin, F., Crim, M., & Shandas, V. (2020). The scenario collaboratory: a framework for integrating environmental assessments and scenarios into municipal planning. Environmental Assessments, (pp. 215–230), Edward Elgar Publishing.

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