Urban Resilience Summit: Way to a Better Future

Representative Image
Representative Image

NEW YORK: As cities around the world face the challenges arising out of rapid urbanization and climate change, 100 Resilient Cities (100 RC) – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation along with New York city hosted
the first 100RC Urban Resilience Summit.

With an aim ‘to spur new solutions and collaborate on best practices to tackle 21st century resilience challenges’, the four-day event took off on July 24. The event witnessed a massive gathering of over 500 resilience experts from around the world.  It convened over 80 chief resilience officers (CRO’s) from it’s member cities. A CRO is a high-level adviser to the city’s chief executive, who has the responsibility of working across sectors of society.

The event initiated with Dr. Rajiv Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation, addressing the gathering with his opening remarks,” 100 Resilient Cities embodies three vital concepts that our foundation has stood for throughout our history, and that we’ll be working hard to carry forward into the future.” It was followed by a keynote address by Michael Berkowitz, the President of 100 RC, on the progress and impact the 100 RC community has made in the last four years. “By bringing the worlds brightest urban resilience minds together, we hope to give cities the tools they need to succeed in the face of the massive threats of the 21st century,” said Berkowitz.

New York : A Living Laboratory For Urban Resilience

Dan Zarrilli, New York City’s Chief Resilience Officer, shared updates about the progress of ‘OneNYC’, New York’s resilience strategy.  “New York City has survived and thrived in the face of critical urban challenges. More than two years ago, New York City released the first resilience strategy by any city, in partnership with 100 Resilient Cities,” said Zarrilli.

“The plan builds on prior long-term plans and sets the stage for our city’s fifth century.This strategy, OneNYC, was designed to ensure we deliver inclusive growth and climate action for all New Yorkers,” he added sharing NYC’s resilience strategies.

Resilience Challenges

The summit acknowledged a wide list of urban resilience challenges that cities are facing, right from aging infrastructure to water security.  The challenges cities face often aren’t a single shock or stress. Most cities face a combination of these challenges, which can contribute to further threatening a city’s resilience. For example: The recent hurricane Irma was the not the only reason of destruction in Florida, what enhanced destruction was a series of urban resilience challenges including poverty, aging infrastructure, inadequate health management systems, uncontrolled urban development etc. Accra’s (Ghana) Resilience Challenge, for example, is curbing water pollution and addressing burgeoning housing needs while Boston has prioritized improving water management while fostering social cohesion and equality. Housing shortages, neighborhood segregation, and heat waves are the major challenges faced by Paris, among others.

Dr. Rajiv Shah, focusing on the objective of 100RC added, “The promise of resilience lies not in what we’ve done, but what we will do going forward. Today more than 80 cities have their Chief Resilience Officers on board, and more than 30 have released resilience strategies. The cities have leveraged more than $535 million dollars from public, private, and philanthropic sources to implement the initiatives in their resilience strategies. People around the world want leaders who can deliver results, and cities are stepping up to be those leaders.”

Dr. Rajiv Shah
President, The Rockefeller Foundation

“Today half of almost 8 billion people on Earth live in cities, and by 2050, that will increase to 75 percent of a global population of [nearly] 10 billion people. Rockefeller Foundation aims to deliver and seriously focus on real human results at scale – to improve people’s lives, particularly those who are vulnerable, in measurable and meaningful ways”