Adaptive Capacity as Local Sustainable Development: Contextualizing and Comparing Risks and Resilience in Two Chilean Regions

Regional resilience refers to an immanent condition for facing multiple risks on a permanent basis, both episodic and incremental. These risks are not only linked to natural disasters and climate change, but also to poverty and inequality of access to services such as health, and personal safety. This article considers the underlying conditions that shape regional resilience in Chile, based on inter-regional and intra-regional comparisons in the Metropolitan Region of Santiago and the Region of Araucania. Instead of viewing resilience in terms of an ability to counter a single risk, the article highlights the fact that risks are multiple and overlapping over time and generated at different scales. Municipal level data on poverty, health, and public finances in the two regions reveal the contrasting underlying inequalities that point to regional mosaics of resilience rather than homogeneity. Different threats are superposed on these preexisting conditions of resilience. The article refers to three in particular: the 2010 Chilean earthquake (episodic); climate change (episodic and incremental); and the Covid-19 pandemic (episodic). The findings point to high levels of urban versus rural differentiation, and also high differentiation within the Santiago Metropolitan Area based on socio-economic conditions. This regional mosaic of underlying structural conditions suggests that regional resilience can be enhanced by engaging with structural socio-spatial inequalities rather than a focus on managing risks via siloed, threat-by-threat responses.

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