To read this content please select one of the options below:

From Sustainability to Resilience: Why Locality Matters

From Sustainable to Resilient Cities: Global Concerns and Urban Efforts

ISBN: 978-1-78441-058-2, eISBN: 978-1-78441-057-5

Publication date: 25 November 2014



To look at the role of local decision-making and control in the face of a trend towards unified national and transnational disaster protocols. To look at the implications of a shifting rhetoric – from sustainability to resilience – for this issue.


This chapter draws upon the author’s case studies of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic in New York City and Hurricane Sandy (2013) in New York City, as well as studies of Hurricane Katrina (2006) in New Orleans, to discuss governance issues.


Empirical studies confirm the importance of locally based decision-making and control. There are tensions between national disaster protocols and local decision-making; urban governance matters given differences in political culture, leadership, and community participation.

Social implications

We need a resilient social infrastructure as well as a resilient physical environment. Strong social institutions are an essential part of this process but communities must be given material, not only symbolic benefits.

Originality/value of chapter

The conclusion that the threat of natural disasters requires more rather than less autonomy in decision-making for the locality.

Furthermore, that the shift in objectives, from sustainability to resilience (mandating redundancy and sophisticated data retrieval) requires what we might call a more empowered city.



Hoffman, L.M. (2014), "From Sustainability to Resilience: Why Locality Matters", From Sustainable to Resilient Cities: Global Concerns and Urban Efforts (Research in Urban Sociology, Vol. 14), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 341-357.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014 Emerald Group Publishing Limited