Resilience in the Transition Towns Movement. Towards a new Urban Governance

  • Grazia Brunetta Turin Polytechnic - Interuniversity Department of Urban and Regional Studies and Planning (DIST).
  • Valeria Baglione Turin Polytechnic - Interuniversity Department of Urban and Regional Studies and Planning (DIST).
Keywords: Resilience, Transition Tows Movement, Urban Governance


Resilience, a concept typical in the natural sciences, has for some years been part of vocabulary of spatial planning but it is as yet relatively unexplored. Its common definition still represents resilience as the capacity of a system to absorb disturbances and to reorganise itself, by returning to the original state. Complexity theory shows that resilience is a bottom-up process, closely related to self-organization of a system, which could change the role of institutions and community in urban governance. Recently, the concept of resilience has been associated with the Transition Towns movement, a bottom-up initiative promoted by civil society. Better known as “urban initiatives for the transition”, they are a set of bottom-up practices of urban management, aimed at achieving a self-sufficient and “zero impact” model of urban development.
In this perspective, the research question is: could this new paradigm of development and spatial organization really be a new approach in urban governance?
The paper focuses on the epistemological dimension of the concept of resilience in spatial planning. The purpose is to understand the extent of innovation in planning practices and urban governance. In particular, the first part of the paper provides a review of the theoretical framework of resilience and the second analyzes the Transition Towns movement, with particular reference to the role of stakeholders.
The main aim is to study the implications of the concept of resilience in spatial planning and, in particular, how it translates in the Transition Town experiences. The related outcome is to reflect on the perspective of institutional innovation, in terms of new urban governance. 


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Author Biographies

Grazia Brunetta, Turin Polytechnic - Interuniversity Department of Urban and Regional Studies and Planning (DIST).

Associate Professor of Urban Planning at the InterUniversity Department of Urban and Regional Studies and Planning (DIST) of Turin Polytechnic where she teaches Urban Planning and Strategic Environmental Assessment. She has been member in Editorial Board of Italian Journal of Regional Science until 2010, and in the elected scientific board of Italian Section of the Regional Science Association. Her research activities is related to the following topics: institutional innovation in spatial planning, strategic evaluation in territorial planning, environmental and landscape planning. The results of her researches have been collected in national and international publications.

Valeria Baglione, Turin Polytechnic - Interuniversity Department of Urban and Regional Studies and Planning (DIST).
Valeria Baglione, PhD in Environment and Territory at Politecnico di Torino. She is studying primarily: urban conflicts, residential associations (with a focus on cohousing) and civic associations (with particular attention to the urban context) in spatial planning.



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How to Cite
BrunettaG., & BaglioneV. (2013). Resilience in the Transition Towns Movement. Towards a new Urban Governance. TeMA - Journal of Land Use, Mobility and Environment, 6(2), 251-264.