Recent decades have seen urban resilience becoming a more popular term internationally both within academic and policy circles. However, relatively little attention has been paid by the literature to the policy implications of striving towards more resilient urban systems and the challenges introduced by the complex, multi-level and multi-actor policy network that forms their context. The central hypothesis of this research is that resilience is a long-term goal, beyond immediate disaster planning and management, and an ongoing process that requires a proactive approach (as opposed to a reactive approach). This builds on the idea that focusing only on the immediate outcomes of extreme events keeps the city on a “catch-up mode”, which is both unsustainable and inefficient in the long-term. This research proposes that in order to progress towards resilience that endures, the policies that underpin these efforts must remain effective and “survive” short-term pressures. It attempts to pinpoint the main elements that, if understood and addressed, can help policies withstand sources of stress and remain effective in delivering more enduring or sustainable forms of resilience.
While there are many factors that have already been identified, this paper will explore only one aspect: Information flows. This is a topic that although is often mentioned as “important” in policy literature, it is also rarely explored. The following is the result of a qualitative meta-analysis of over 100 references relating to resilience, sustainability, and multi-actor network and complex problems policy. This paper also includes the results from the first half of a series of interviews with policy experts from industry, government and research from Australia, the UK and the USA.