Yesterday, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) announced it’s support of the “100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge” first put forth by the Rockefeller Foundation. As a reminder:
Rockefeller is inviting cities to apply to be one of these 100 resilient cities – to be named in three rounds over the next three years – by arguing for how they’re working to become “resilient.” Rockefeller wants to then help them create a resilience plan, preemptively sketching out how they would address any number of catastrophes including but beyond climate change.
“We see it as broader than that,” Coleman says. “It’s really about how cities are able to deal with shocks and stresses. Those could be climate-related, or more general weather-related. But they could be other natural disasters like earthquakes. They could also be things like financial shocks and stresses – something we’ve seen a lot of over the last few years. Or health crises. Really anything that is going to test the city and its response.”
The Clinton Global Initiative is supporting this vision:
“It is our deep conviction that we should be preparing for disasters before they happen, rather than responding after the fact. This not only saves lives, reduces human suffering and protects property: it also helps to speed up recovery and lessen the impact on public and private budgets, which is the essence of resilience. Frankly this is an exciting moment to be supporting the 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge. Our contribution to the commitment will consist of practical risk management insight and tools, including CatNet, a state-of-the-art risk assessment tool, which will be offered to the cities free of charge. We also look forward to bringing our expertise to bear in helping to define the role of the Chief Resilience Officer, and supporting the development of the CRO network,” said Martyn Parker, Chairman Global Partnerships, Swiss Re.
This expansion is supported by a range of organizations beyond the Rockefeller Foundation and Clinton Global Iniative:
The Commitment to Action, led by The Rockefeller Foundation and shared by Swiss Re, the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Architecture for Humanity, and Palantir, will support at least 100 cities to hire a Chief Resilience Officer (CRO), create a resilience strategy, and provide access to tools, technical support, and resources for implementation including access to innovative finance for infrastructure development. 100 Resilient Cities will also create a network for CROs to share information and best practice.
This isn’t the first foray into resilience by the CGI:
The Response & Resilience Track provides a space for CGI members to explore a range of topics, including natural disaster preparedness and response, support for humanitarian crises, and post-conflict reconstruction. CGI members in this Track share lessons learned in an effort to identify how corporations, NGOs, governments, and civil society can effectively coordinate efforts to prepare for and reduce the impact of conflict and disaster. While there are some areas of regional focus—such as Haiti and the Democratic Republic of the Congo—this Track collaborates closely with the other Tracks to explore cross-cutting issues such as resilient cities and cultural resiliency through the arts
This can be an incredibly influential program. Participation by the CGI will lend the weight of influential and resource rich individuals and organizations. Resilience is often discussed in terms of grassroots or bottom-up development, and that will not and should not change. Yet I get the sense that it’s an area that advances in fits and spurts, often treated less as a unique concept than a term to describe existing efforts in prevention, preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery.
Attention from new classes of stakeholders – whether they be politicians or other financial/political elites – can be a good thing.