Resilient Sydney

A program for metropolitan Sydney to build the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses and systems to survive, adapt and thrive in the face of chronic stresses and acute shocks.


Resilient Sydney is a collaboration of all 33 metropolitan councils of Greater Sydney to develop and implement a city-wide resilience strategy, first published in 2018.

The program began in 2015 and has been governed by a metropolitan steering committee of representatives from local governments, NSW Government, business and the community sector. Resilient Sydney is a member of the global Resilient Cities Network. The Resilient Sydney Office is funded by local government and hosted by the City of Sydney.

Help us develop a new resilience strategy for Sydney

We’re developing a new resilience strategy for Sydney. This will build on the success of the current Resilient Sydney strategy. Over the next year, we’ll talk to communities and stakeholders to identify actions where we can work together to strengthen the resilience of Sydney.

Why we need a new resilience strategy for Sydney

Top shock events identified in the Resilient Sydney strategy 2018 have occurred in the past 5 years. Sydney has experienced significant floods, fires, heatwaves, droughts, infrastructure failures, cyberattacks and a global pandemic.

Many of the actions in the first strategy have been implemented. There is an increasing need to respond to how climate change is impacting Sydney’s economy, communities and environment.

How the strategy will be developed

Resilient Sydney 2025–2030 will be developed through comprehensive research and engagement with stakeholders and community members.

Research will include a resilience risk assessment to identify the shock and stresses most likely to impact our city. The assessment will analyse how megatrends are shaping Sydney.

Community engagement will include 6 workshops held across Greater Sydney, and workshops and interviews with stakeholders. It will also include forums with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, young people, people with disability and multicultural communities and business.

The development of the Resilient Sydney strategy 2025–2030 is funded under the joint Australian Government – NSW Government National Partnership Agreement on Disaster Risk Reduction.

What is city resilience?

City resilience is the capacity of people, communities, businesses and systems within a city to survive, adapt and thrive no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience.

Acute shocks are sudden events that threaten a city. Examples include heatwaves, floods, disease outbreaks and cyberattacks.

Chronic stresses weaken the fabric of a city on a day-to-day basis. Examples include rising inequity, housing unaffordability, family violence and inadequate public transport.

Why resilient cities are important

There are 3 drivers shaping human communities today and our future relies on resilient cities.

  1. Urbanisation – An increasing proportion of the human population live in cities. By 2050, the global population is projected to be 9.7 billion and 70% of those people will live in urban centres.
  2. Globalisation – We increasingly rely on global connections to supply our cities with the things we need. This makes us vulnerable when shocks and stresses affect other cities and supply chains.
  3. Climate change – The impact of climate change on communities, economies and the environment is increasing. We need to be prepared, by planning for impacts to ensure our cities can adapt to a changing climate.

Cities are complex places where large numbers of people rely on the systems in a city to function well. Improving these systems and networks will increase our overall resilience.

Resilient cities can withstand and better recover from shocks and stresses. They emerge stronger after tough times and are better places to live in good times.

Research by Resilient Sydney in 2017 confirmed Greater Sydney was highly vulnerable to acute shock events and faces ongoing stresses.

Resilient Sydney Office

A small team, led by the chief resilience officer facilitates the Resilient Sydney strategy. The program works with cities around the world to share best practice and collaborate with council leaders and resilience ambassadors in Sydney.

Actions include a platform to better manage and report Sydney-wide data, policy research and development, and community campaigns on emergency preparedness and social connections. Networks to share knowledge have increased the way we understand our city and work together on resilience.

Resilient Sydney strategy documents

Resilient Sydney Strategy 2018PDF · 6.9 MB · Last modified
Resilient Sydney Strategy 2018 (accessible version – part 1)PDF · 9.81 MB · Last modified
Resilient Sydney Strategy 2018 (accessible version – part 2)PDF · 17.56 MB · Last modified
Resilient Sydney Strategy 2018 (accessible version – part 3)PDF · 13.73 MB · Last modified

Resources for councils

Building social cohesion: A resource for local governmentPDF · 3.42 MB · Last modified

Department of Premier and Cabinet, NSW Government, March 2023

Emergency Ready Week 2022PDF · 2.3 MB · Last modified

Resilient Sydney Action 23 – Project Report (October 2022)

Neighbour Day 2022PDF · 3.2 MB · Last modified

Resilient Sydney Action 18 – Project Report (April 2022)

Resilient Sydney Strategy Overview 2018PDF · 1.67 MB · Last modified
Report of Engagement with Indigenous Elders and Community Leaders 2018PDF · 872.56 KB · Last modified
Phase 2 Diagnostic Report 2017PDF · 2.36 MB · Last modified
Phase 2 Engagement Report 2017PDF · 1.59 MB · Last modified
Phase 1 Resilience Assessment Sydney 2016PDF · 3.27 MB · Last modified
Phase 1 City Context Report 2016PDF · 2.97 MB · Last modified
Phase 1 Agenda Setting Workshop Report 2015PDF · 812.22 KB · Last modified

Resilience assessment guide

The guide provides a framework to explore how shock and stresses may result in resilience hazards within a specific place and community. 

By applying this guide within your local or regional context, it’s possible to:

  • identify key community stresses and likely or most disruptive shock events in advance
  • understand potential impacts in the context of longer trends
  • identify resilience hazards for that place
  • test resilience hazards and priorities with the stakeholders of that place
  • develop projects, investments, policies, processes and networks to collaboratively manage the hazards and reduce future impacts across NSW.
Resilience assessment guidePDF · 1.85 MB · Last modified

Outcomes and insights report

The outcomes and insights report documents what and how the Resilient Sydney strategy has achieved the systemic changes required to tackle Sydney’s core resilience challenges, to date. The report describes the theory behind the Resilient Sydney approach, with a focus on the role of the Resilient Sydney Office and governance. It discusses the outcomes achieved and insights realised.

The main audience for the report is change practitioners and the main actors in the metropolitan Sydney governance system. The report complements the program report produced by the Resilient Sydney Office.

The report was produced by Clear Horizon from May 2020 to May 2021, in consultation with the Resilient Sydney Office. It includes data collected from 175 stakeholders. The data was collected through a survey of 154 respondents, interviews with 21 people linked to the Resilient Sydney Office, and 20 key external informants.

Outcomes and insights reportPDF · 931.79 KB · Last modified