How Resilient is Your City?


Cities are growing rapidly, and they are largely unprepared to withstand and bounce back from natural and man-made shocks and stresses.

GLOBE-Net, August 7, 2013 – The Rockefeller Foundation has announced the 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge is now open for applications.  

The Foundation is also launching an official website for the Challenge, inviting individuals to join in a global conversation about urban resilience and what can be done to make cities places of growth and opportunity now and in the future.  

The Foundation invites cities around the world to  register to apply for the challenge.

“100 years ago, when the Rockefeller Foundation was granted its charter with the mission to promote the well-being of humanity around the world, only 10 percent of humanity lived in cities, said Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation.

[stextbox id=”custom” float=”true” align=”right” width=”300″ bgcolor=”82c3ce” bgcolorto=”82c3ce” image=”null”]Disasters in urban areas can impact millions of people and shut down entire economic systems and supply chains. And whether they are public health threats, contagions in our financial markets, or volatile weather events, our challenges are indeed shared challenges, and vulnerability in one area often shakes the stability of another. Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation.[/stextbox]

“So when the advisers to the young philanthropy debated what issues would dominate its attention in those early years, disease threats and medical education in China made the top of the list. Cities were nowhere to be found.”

“But in today’s hyper-connected world, our challenges are distinguished by their frequency, scale, and ability to ripple over borders and across continents. Once-in-a-lifetime storms now threaten the Eastern Seaboard of the United States every few years,” she added.

Speaking on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program this week, she said the 100 Resilient Cities Challenge “is to take a hundred cities globally, and link them around the world, not only so they can share best practices, but so they can receive a suite of services that will be provided by the Rockefeller Foundation.” 

In order to become more resilient, she said, cities must have better access to innovative financing, make better use of big data, and improve land and infrastructure planning, among many other things.

Each winning city will receive three forms of support:

  • Membership in the newly formed 100 Resilient Cities Network, which will provide support to member cities and share new knowledge and resilience best practices.
  • Support to hire a Chief Resilience Officer (CRO), a new innovation. The CRO will oversee the development of a resilience strategy for the city.
  • Support to create a resilience plan, along with tools and resources for implementation.

While every city’s resilience journey will be different based on the unique needs of their populations and geographies, building the resilience of our urban places will be critical to face down new challenges and threats, some of which we have begun to imagine and plan for-many we have not, notes the Foundation.  

GLOBE 2014-SmallBuilding Climate Resilient Cities  will be a major issue discussed at GLOBE 2014, the next in the celebrated GLOBE Series Conferences on the business of the environment taking place in Vancouver  Canada, March 26-28, 2014.   Reserve your place now. Check here for more details

The foundation defines a city by a population with more than 50,000 residents with a local government or elected or designated chief executive office specifically assigned to lead the population. 

Building Resilience is about making people, communities and systems better prepared to withstand catastrophic events – both natural and manmade – and able to bounce back more  quickly and emerge stronger from these shocks and stresses, says the Foundation.

After Hurricane Katrina it provided almost $22 million towards helping  New Orleans establish a single, broadly shared framework for planning and development and targeted investments to increase both equity and resilience.The Rockefeller Foundation has pursued a range of initiatives based on the concept of resilience.

Based on its work with New Orleans the Foundation believes there are five characteristics that resilient systems share, in good times and in times of stress:

  • The capacity for robust feedback loops that sense and allow new options to be introduced quickly as conditions change.
  • The flexibility to change, and evolve, in the face of disaster.
  • Options for limited or “safe” failure, which prevents stressors from rippling across systems – requiring islanding or de-networking at times.
  • Spare capacity, which ensures that there is a back-up or alternative available when a vital component of a system fails.
  • The ability for rapid rebound, to re-establish function quickly, and avoid long-term disruptions.

Why should we be focusing so much attention on Resilience?

This question was posed by Dr. Rodin speaking at an event in storm ravaged New York City earlier this year.

Her response: ‘Resilience forces us to think more strategically about how we plan, build and run our cities – and ensure that our systems are working for all citizens. If we are spending fortunes of money rebuilding and repairing after emergencies we’ll never make a dent in any of our other goals – whether it’s fighting disease outbreaks, social inequities, or rising unemployment.”

“It is critical that we not just see resilience as something that we call on after a shock, but something we actively pursue – governments, private enterprise, and citizens – together in those moments in between,” she added, noting that because our future is an urban future, building resilient cities is for the betterment of the world.

More information on the Challenge is available here

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