By Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities and Managing Director of The Rockefeller Foundation.
"What started as a bold, but untested, idea on how to best help cities prepare for the challenges of the 21st Century has transformed into a global movement driven by city leadership, urban stakeholders, and corporate and nonprofit partners. The Chief Resilience Officer (CRO), a position unheard of five years ago, is now in 84 cities an integral position for breaking down silos in city government and unifying stakeholders around their risks and opportunities.
From OneNYC in 2015 to Santiago de los Caballeros Resiliente released last week, these CROs have so far led 40 cities in the Network in publishing holistic and actionable roadmaps to a more resilient future. Contained within these living documents are more than 2,000 specific projects and initiatives targeted to improving the cities’ capacity to thrive in the face of acute and chronic challenges. To help get these Resilience Strategies off the ground and put them into action, our partners have pledged nearly $230 million in pro bono solutions and services to our member cities. The strategies themselves have catalyzed $1.7 billion in funding to support the implementation of the projects and initiatives outlined in their pages.
We know cities are where the greatest challenges of this century will be met. 70% of the world’s population is expected to reside in urban areas by 2050, which means it will be in cities where we have the chance to address the most pressing issues of our time, chief among them equity, climate, and poverty alleviation.
The World Bank estimates that $2 trillion will be spent annually over the next 15 years on urban infrastructure. The way to build stronger, more adaptable cities is to leverage those resources to produce multiple benefits, where a single intervention done right can address various challenges. New housing units and green space can be incubated to build community strength and social capital; upgraded public transportation and multimodal streets can better foster cohesive and integrated neighborhoods. This approach to infrastructure will make cities more sustainable, more livable, and ultimately more resilient, giving them greater ability to withstand whatever shock may come next.
Cities are changing their approach to planning and design, with the potential for improving the lives of billions of people who live in urban centers. Your partnership has been vital to building this movement, and it will continue to be in the future. We look forward to continuing on this journey with you, together."