Resilience Strategy of Quito
Resilience Strategy of Quito - ©Municipality of Quito, photo by Ricardo Coronel Ruiz

Metropolitan District of Quito Resilience Strategy

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Main actors

City Government, Private Sector, NGO / Philanthropy, Community / Citizen Group, Research Institutes / Universities

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Project area

Whole City/Administrative Region

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Ongoing since 2016/08

The city of Quito is preparing to face the challenges of the 21st century based on its adaptive capacity, which is built on social and economic inclusion, efficient urban performance and environmental sustainability.

The City of Quito was selected to be part of the 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) initiative, which supports cities around the world in their efforts to build urban resilience. By using the 100RC methodology, it was possible to analyse the city’s strengths and vulnerabilities and evaluate its capacity to face these challenges.

The Resilience Strategy of Quito addresses the need to develop mechanisms that strategically respond to acute shocks, and solve chronic stresses that afflict the city. While the city’s location in the Andes creates critical challenges, other characteristics, such as human and biological diversity, become a corner stone for resilience building.

The Strategy has been developed at a time when new urban planning parameters for the Metropolitan District of Quito are being defined, both in terms of mobility and urban development. This includes the construction of the first metro line, and the city’s commitment to the New Urban Agenda, which was adopted by the UN in Quito during Habitat III.

Sustainable Development Goals

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Reduce inequality within and among countries
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
Quito, Ecuador

Size and population development
Quito follows Guayaquil as the second most populous city in the country. However, if we were to take the Metropolitan District of Quito in comparison to Guayaquil, the former would lead the demographic charts with 2.7 million people living there. The MDQ extends 4,183 square kilometres, with a very low population density in comparison to other Metropolitan capitals of Latin American.

Population composition
In the entire province of Pichicha, in which Quito is located, has around 140,000 indigenious people.The largest racial group identified by the Ecuador’s national census are mestizo, a classification with its origins in the original colonisation of the Americas, with it referring to the children of criollos (Latin Americans of Spanish origin) and indigenous, although the term now simply means mixed ethnicity, with this grouping making up over 80 percent of the population. The remainder is divided into various groups, the most significant being indigenous, largely speakers of Quechua; Afro-Ecuadorians, the dependents of slaves; and a small white population. There is also an immigrant population, with around 2% of the populous speaking a language other than Spanish or Quechua;

Main functions
San Francisco de Quito is the capital of the Province of Pichincha, and moreover the capital of Ecuador. Known simply as “Quito”, it is the second most elevated capital city in South America after La Paz, Bolivia, which stands at 2,580 meters above sea level and sits amid mountains and deep valley in the eastern Andes. The city is crossed by four tectonic faults, 192 ravines and is surrounded by 20 volcanoes, of which three are active. The Metropolitan District of Quito is 55% vegetation and is a recognized bio-diversity hotspot (Tumes-Choco-Magdalena). Moreover, Quito is known as a cultural capital, with its historic centre being a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site since 1978 because of its status as one of the least-altered and best-preserved central districts in the American continent. In recent years, there has been a noticeable influx of Venezuelan migrants who have fled their country due to internal struggles, and it has become a challenge not only to Quito but to the whole of Ecuador to manage their arrival, which amounts to hundreds of thousands. Ecuador has long been Latin America’s largest recipient of refugees, with the majority fleeting violence and repression in Columbia.

Main industries / business
Quito provides the highest percentage of Ecuador’s GDP. The main industries of Quito belong to the three sectors: the city exports coffee, cacao, sugar, palm oil, and bananas—with Ecuador being the world’s largest exporter of bananas. It is also known for its textiles and for being a popular touristic destination. In 2015, an approximate of 1.5 million international tourists visited the capital, according to the Office of Tourism, largely from Colombia, United States and Perú. Tourism in the city is greatly directed to places of Catholic heritage (churches, sculptures, etc.), museums, and to the textile and night life scenes. According to Ecuador’s Central Bank, Quito receives significant remittance funds from the one million plus Ecuadorians living abroad. It is also the place were most of the strongest national companies and many transnational ones have anchored themselves, such as the nation’s biggest corporation Petroecuador, and is also the hub of the nation’s automotive industry and the headquarters of TAME, Ecuador’s national airline.

Sources for city budget
Quito has a high rate of tax collection when compared to other capital cities in South America, with a 12% sales tax, a 22% corporate tax rate, and a progressive personal income tax rate that sites around 35%. The province which houses Quito has two types of budget, one designed according to the needs of the province, the Preassigned Budget of Income, and the second being used to fund the institutions, programs and prioritized projects, and it is paid for with federal funding.

Political structure
Quito is at once the capital of Ecuador, of the Province of Pichincha and the seat of the MDQ canton, while houses all of the diplomatic offices from other countries. It is governed by the Metropolitan Council made up of 21 council members. The front man of the council is the Mayor, who is both mayor of the Quito seat and of the Metropolitan District. The council is tasked with promoting the city, ensuring public services, tax collection, public and private transport regulation, and city development planning.

Administrative structure
Ecuador is a country that for administrative purposes is divided into provincias (provinces), cantones (cantons), and political parishes. Quito belongs in the Pichincha province, and in its form of Metropolitan District of Quito it is a canton. Quito, in its most local definition—equivalent to a parish—is the seat (centre) of the MDQ canton. The canton is made up of 55 parishes, and the urban parishes are what is known as Quito. The administration of all the parishes is handled by 9 administrative zones. In each of these, there is a council person assigned by the mayor of Quito in charge of managing the parishes within the zone. These zones were created to decentralize institutional arrangements and to manage civil participation.

Planning for urban resilience requires an understanding of the systems and subsystems that make up the city and its surroundings. “Socioecological systems” refer to the environment, including moorlands, mountains, forests and rivers; while “sociotechnological systems” are related to infrastructure, mobility systems, and water or electrical supply (Meerow et al., 2016). The interaction and interdependence between these two systems generates synergies and clashes. The constantly changing dynamics of these systems require prepared responses and resilience structures that both support and depend on each other (Kristinsson, 2012).

The Quito Resilience Strategy is based on the analysis of these dynamics, and from there weaknesses and opportunities are identified. The Strategy sets forth an integrated, cross-disciplinary approach to the city’s main acute shocks and chronic stresses, through which concrete actions aimed at improving the city’s capacity to adapt and thrive in the face of these potential threats were defined.

The Strategy has been developed through a highly participatory process that included meetings and consultations with a wide variety of stakeholders from both the public and private sectors, NGOs and academic institutions. It is aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals, the New Urban Agenda, and the Metropolitan Plan for Development and Land Management, which governs the municipality’s work.

The implementation plan was developed with multiple municipal agencies and other partners who worked together to identify priority actions and develop programs and projects to create a time frame transcending election cycles. This also includes the identification of resources and the establishment of a road map to achieve effective results. Together with these stakeholders, connections between Resilient Quito and the city are being forged, especially with and for the most vulnerable citizens.

At the institutional level, the process carried out during the development of the Strategy with the different municipal agencies clearly established the importance of multisector contributions and the need to generate internal synergies. Therefore, special emphasis was placed on delving deeper into the model of collaborative work and inviting stakeholders from the private sector, academia, other municipalities, and NGOs to join in the effort.

At the international level, through the 100RC initiative, the city of Quito is taking advantage of a wide “library” of valuable experiences, using the platform to collaborate with cities facing similar acute shocks and common chronic stresses. The initiative’s platform partners also provide continuous collaboration with work and technical guidance that allow the city to strategically implement the resilience agenda.

Finally, the city’s capacity to build resilience requires a monitoring system to ensure periodic evaluations that show the advances in implementing the Resilience Strategy. This monitoring system is being developed to help verify the impact of the different initiatives that contribute to building the city’s resilience.

The new Metropolitan Resilience Directorate, located in the General Secretariat of Planning of the Municipality of Quito, has the responsibility of managing and coordinating the activities of all the technical agencies in order to implement the Resilience Strategy. The General Secretariat is responsible for constructing, establishing and implementing the Metropolitan Plan for Development and Land Management of the city. This ensures that part of the budget invested by the city of Quito is used to promote the resilience agenda.

Simultaneously, through 100 Resilient Cities, the city receives technical assistance to promote the different activities of the Resilience Strategy. Additionally, the Metropolitan Resilience Directorate coordinates with other technical agencies of the Municipality to work on other programs and projects that have and may receive resources from international organizations of different kinds.

The Strategy is a long term proposal. However, the following actions are being developed and implemented using principles outlined in the Quito Resilience Strategy:


  • Different neighbourhoods face different challenges. Approximately 60 municipal technicians have been trained so they can facilitate workshops to formulate Neighborhood Development Agendas under a lens of resilience.
  • Five training workshops for neighborhood leaders (about 130 leaders) have been held to formulate these plans.
  • The Municipality of Quito has implemented a digital platform for citizen participation to allow citizen engagement in city planning and decision making.
  • The Municipality of Quito has designed and built  5 parks in a participatory manner with the community to reduce social insecurity.


  • The Municipality of Quito, together with a local company, promotes a research project on Nature-Based Solutions (CLEVER Project) with other European partners.
  • The Municipality of Quito has launched the "Quito Recycles" program to encourage the participation of citizens in the reduction of waste generation.


  • The feasibility study for Transport-Oriented Development addresses the main challenges of the city in terms of mobility and social inclusion.
  • It has been launched by the Quito Eco-efficiency Resolution, which encourages the real estate sector to construct buildings near the stations of mass transport systems, including mechanisms that reduce the environmental footprint during the construction and operation of these buildings.
  • The Development Plan for the Historic Center of Quito is being developed under a resilience lens.
  • Several streets have been designated for pedestrians only in the Historic Center of Quito with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


  • The production sectors that have the greatest capacity to create quality jobs have been identified and are now part of the city's investment promotion agenda.
  • The Agroalimentary Strategy of Quito has been developed through a highly participatory process with many sectors of the community and government and builds on resilience principles.
  • Furthermore, the Municipality of Quito, based on an agreement signed between 100 Resilient Cities, the FOMIN and Fundacion Avina, is working to promote a pilot project base on the circular economy in industrial polygons of the city to reduce the environmental footprint of the production processes.


  • The Municipality of Quito, together with the Architects Association of Ecuador-Pichincha, is developing a pilot project to reinforce the safety of existing housing stock and reduce the risk of collapse of buildings against physical threats.

The main challenge has and continues to be, to break down the silos which the different agencies usually work within the Municipality of Quito.

This has been achieved based on communication and coordinated work efforts, dedicating time and developing appropriate mechanisms to achieve this goal.

The process of formulating the Resilience Strategy of Quito could be beneficial in the urban planning process of any city. In the same way, the mechanisms developed to break the silos of the different agencies could be very useful.

The main lesson learned is acknowledging that while cities have a responsibility to manage large systems, such as mobility, social and production, these need to be incorporated into the city's resilience strategy for it to be successful.

- Meerow, S., Newell, J.P. y Stults, M. (2016). Defining Urban Resilience: A Review Landscape and Urban Planning. DOI: 10.1016/j. landurbplan.2015.11.011. - Kristinsson, J. (2012). Integrated Sustainable Design. Delftdigitalpress. For further reference please refer to the Resilience Strategy of Quito.

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David Jácome Polit
Quito, Ecuador

David Jácome Polit

Individual | Resilience Adviser

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