What makes a city resilient?

resilient cities
Originally published on the Guardian Cities website.

When it comes to addressing civic problems, one of today’s buzzwords is “resilience”. The question of the purpose of cities, and their responsibility to their citizens, is at the centre of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities programme [who are presenting a keynote session at Smart to Future Cities Summit in London]. Designed to promote urban resilience around the world, the programme will award grants to 100 cities that “have demonstrated a dedicated commitment to building their own capacities to prepare for, withstand, and bounce back rapidly from shocks and stresses”. The Foundation’s support will include hiring a “chief resilience officer” for the city, as well as providing aid to develop a resilience plan and access to services to begin implementing that plan.

More than 1,000 cities registered to take part in the Resilient Cities programme, and almost 400 formally applied for inclusion. On 2 December, the foundation announced its first 33 honorees. Arrayed across six continents and 21 countries, the selected cities range from thriving megacities like Mexico City to struggling regional hubs like Rotterdam, relatively young metropolises like Porto Alegre to some of the oldest occupied areas on the planet, such as Rome. All have experienced significant setbacks that have tested their resilience, and they have all attempted to design programs and procedures to help them come to terms with their vulnerabilities.
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According to the Rockefeller Foundation’s president, Judith Rodin, the intention is to circumvent the problem of conflicting civic and cultural philosophies by focusing on solving specific problems, using flooding as an example She says: “Your city’s vulnerability to water may require an 8ft-tall dike, while another city requires natural infrastructure like archipelagoes and oyster beds. Those are very different practices, but they represent the same resilience principle, which is that you’ve got to figure out how to deal with water in a way that really works.”

Ultimately, Rodin hopes, the programme will form the basis of a “set of systematic resilience principles that are generalisable”. And, eventually, she says, the project hopes to help all cities learn to view their specific problems “through a resilience lens”.

But is it possible to trade a specific regional lens for a worldwide one? Continue reading on the Guardian Cities website… to find out more.

Elizabeth Yee, VP Strategic Partnerships and Solutions at 100 Resilient Cities, will be presenting a keynote session at Smart to Future Cities 2015. Make sure you’re there to meet her and take the opportunity to ask questions! She is one of the 50+ strong panel of speakers and 150+ attendees already registered at Smart to Future Cities Summit 2015, which promises to be the most exciting to date.

NB: early-bird solution-provider registration rate ends on 27th February  save £400+ by registering early! Cities and enterprise can claim a complimentary pass.

Smart Future Cities

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