International joint program
UNESCO Chair on Sustainability
Urban adaptation to resilient futures in informal settlements
Informal settlements constitute one of the main engines of urban development in the Latin American cities. For example, in the case of Bogota, Colombia, they are the origin of at least 40% of the urban area of the city.
Studying urban development in informal settlements requires recognizing informal dynamics as part of emerging sustainable solutions that facilitate urban functionality across human, natural, and political processes. Adaptation includes questions of transformation in the forms and processes of planning at the level of the municipality, the state, and the various communities of interest.
The complexity of these urban landscapes stems from a combination of their social multiplicity (in terms of race, age, origin, culture, etc.), the different power interests at play (land speculation, trafficking of arms, people, drugs, formal versus informal rules and codes of conduct, etc.), and the uniqueness of their physical geography (topography, fluvial, ecological processes, etc.). From these human social, political and physiographic perspectives, adaptation strategies should recognize and support the heterogeneity of the landscape, rather than apply a homogenous approach to the administration of informal settlements as urban structures.
From this emerges an orientation for adaptation as a mechanism of transformation of degraded urban landscapes, building an understanding of agency through complexity, to advance new processes of use, care, administration, management, governance, and social change.
Relevant documents of the process
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