100 Resilient Cities: second round announced

London, Paris, Accra, Bangalore, Kigali and Singapore among 35 cities tapped for the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities programme.

The Rockefeller Foundation has announced the second cohort of 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) in Singapore at The Urban Resilience Summit: Innovation, Investment and Collaboration. The 35 new members of this important initiative, supported by Swiss Re as one of the founding partners, were selected from 330 applications worldwide.

Climate and disaster related issues such as hurricanes, flooding, earthquake, and water stress are some of the top concerns in the selected cities. And it's not just the disasters themselves that need to be addressed, but also the ripple effects such as health, food security and demographic shifts. There is also a host of completely separate risks for Chief Resilience Officers to deal with, like the effects of racial tensions, income inequality and cyber crime.

"Central to our mission"

Ivo Menzinger, Head Asia for Global Partnerships, Swiss Re said: "We are proud and excited to be working alongside these cities with the other 100RC partners to help improve the resilience factor. Reducing the economic and societal pressure caused by shocks and stresses is very important in cities given the concentration of lives and assets. It's also central to our own mission."

Based in Singapore himself, Menzinger continued: "That the announcement of this second cohort of resilient cities took place in Singapore is very appropriate. While the city itself is considered safe and in many ways leading the resilience debate, it finds itself in a high risk region exposed to earthquakes, typhoons and tsunamis. At the same time, East Asia is one of the fastest growing regions in the world. So despite the many gains of fast-paced economic growth, increased interdependence and unexpected natural disruptions create risks that could continue to challenge the region."

Outcomes from first CRO summit pave the way

The City Chief Resilience Officers from the first cohort, announced last December, gathered for the first time in New Orleans this year. The summit showed that a common definition and approach to resilience will help cities identify ways to grow stronger regardless of which shocks and stresses they face in in the future. A second outcome was that cities need to reframe their problems by asking themselves better questions. A third was the need to identify and confront market and information inefficiencies head on. Last but not least, nothing can replace face-to-face time for sharing resilience expertise, and building on the learnings of others.

Managing the avoidable, and avoiding the unmanageable

The purpose of the 100RC, which was launched as a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action initiative in 2013 is to help city administrations around the world make their cities safer and better places to live and work through these measures:

  • Hiring and empowering a Chief Resilience Officer, a central point of contact within each city to coordinate and oversee the resilience activities, coordinate stakeholders, and ensure resilience is a city-wide priority.
  • Support that Chief Resilience Officer to develop a resilience plan, which will take stock of existing efforts, identify priority areas of need, conduct analysis to understand the interconnected risks and opportunities, and develop a clear and actionable set of priorities and initiatives.
  • Provide access to a platform of services to support the implementation of such a strategy, which may include solutions to spur investments and financing for resilient infrastructure, information technology tools, and policy models for resilience-enabling laws and regulations.
  • Form strong connections to other network members to share best practices – i.e. what works, highlight and share successes, and advance both global and regional dialogues on urban resilience.

Unfortunately, change can sometimes only be brought about through catalytic events like Sandy, Katrina, Fukushima or the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. In the words of Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin, "a crisis is a terrible thing to waste", and hopefully sharing experiences and insights, and a common approach to resilience building will help the new batch of Chief Resilience Officers to better "manage the avoidable, and avoid the unmanageable".

To follow the progress of the 100 Resilient Cities initiative, and other Swiss Re related city activities, visit our Urban Resilience microsite. We're very interested in your thoughts and insights on this topic – please share them via the site's Open Minds blog.

Published 5 December 2014

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