Chief Resilience Officers reflect on 5 years of building resilience

As hard as it is to believe, five years ago the position of Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) did not exist in any city in the world. Today there are at least 86, all acting as champions of a city’s resilience efforts and an essential leader who drives the process of developing a holistic Resilience Strategy. Working under the auspices of the city’s chief executive, the CRO brings together multiple government agencies to take on challenges and opportunities in a collaborative manner – an effort often unseen in municipal government.

100RC takes great pride in the outstanding work done by member cities’ Chief Resilience Officers. We asked a group of them from across the network to reflect on the past five years as part of the 100RC network and share their excitement for the five years ahead.

We asked them each to share what the partnership with 100RC has meant for them and their cities. Here’s how they responded:

What Chief Resilience Officers hope to accomplish in the next 5 years.

DeVon Douglas, Chief Resilience Officer of Tulsa, United States

DeVon Douglas, Chief Resilience Officer of Tulsa, United States

100RC has helped our city elevate the conversation on racial equity in Tulsa. For so long, these conversations in Tulsa had devolved into arguments and frustration, but the resilience framework provides us direction. It provides a new way of looking at our intractable problems. Departments across the city are using the seven characteristics of resilience in their day-to-day planning!

Arnoldo Matus Kramer, Chief Resilience Officer of Mexico City, Mexico

The partnership with 100RC has for Mexico City represented a unique opportunity to share and learn through a global community of cities and experts on building urban resilience.  As General Director of the CDMX Resilience Agency, it has been a great opportunity to grow professionally via technical exchanges and the support of an unprecedented, innovative, and global organization like 100RC.

Christine Morris, Chief Resilience Officer of Norfolk, United States

As one of first cities to join 100RC and the third to release a Resilience Strategy, Norfolk has benefited greatly from our relationship with 100RC. Norfolk’s ability to access the resources and support of 100RC’s network of CROs, partners, and staff expertise has allowed me, as the Chief Resilience Officer, to be a resource to city departments as they seek innovative approaches to living with water, in ways that benefit Norfolk residents and grow our local economy. As a result of our work implementing  Norfolk has become a global leader in coastal resilience. Our city strives to make decisions through a lens of resilience. As such Norfolk is one of the very few in the country to develop a long-range plan, Vision 2100.

Our newest initiative—the transformation of the St. Paul’s area of Norfolk—one of the largest economic and people development initiatives underway in the nation—demonstrates our political, economic, and social commitment to building the city’s resilience.

Andrea Valsagna, Chief Resilience Officer of Santa Fe, Argentina

Andrea Valsagna, Chief Resilience Officer of Santa Fe, Argentina

The partnership with 100RC has meant huge growth personally and for the City of Santa Fe, providing us with an innovative approach to think about urban development. The goals and concrete objectives of our Resilience Strategy make Santa Fe a serious, transparent municipality with the capacity to mobilize private capital to implement initiatives. Access to the 100RC Network of experts from institutions, corporate partners, and our colleagues furthermore helps us focus on our city’s 21st-century challenges. Our incorporation into the network has meant a paradigm shift in how we think about cities. Because it is in cities and their territories where the world’s greatest challenges are concentrated, and where we face increasingly complex dilemmas, we see local governments emerging as leaders in the international arena. We are able to leverage this into local action: our flagship Parque del Norte project is attracting attention from World Bank’s Resilient Cities Program and other global entities.

Dan Zarrilli, Chief Resilience Officer of New York City, United States

With the support of 100RC, New York City released OneNYC, the world’s first resilience strategy. Three years later, New York City is thriving as we are creating the fairest big city in America. Our economy is stronger. The air and surrounding waterways are cleaner than they’ve been in decades. Our neighborhoods are safer, more affordable, and more environmentally just. And we have raised the bar on climate leadership by taking the fight straight to the fossil fuel companies that have created our climate crisis.

Akua Serwaa Ansah, Deputy Chief Resilience Officer of Accra, Ghana

The partnership with 100RC has been very valuable to Accra. One main highlight is the City’s adoption of the resilience lens and applying it to planning processes. In line with a preliminary resilience assessment  which demonstrated the interconnectedness of the city’s resilience challenges, we have also significantly improved our capacity for cross-departmental collaboration.

Krishna Mohan, Chief Resilience Officer of Chennai, India

Krishna Mohan, Chief Resilience Officer of Chennai, India

For Chennai, partnering with 100RC has given us the opportunity to explore the big picture, holistic perspective of our city’s challenges. We have been able to differentiate between symptoms and causes, as well as access expertise and experience from around the world to help develop resilient solutions to our challenges. Personally, this has been a chance to do something meaningful for the city I have called home for the last 60 years! It has been quite a journey aligning different stakeholders around a common goal and starting to see change on the ground, especially as we pivot towards an implementable strategy.

Sébastien Maire, Chief Resilience Officer of Paris, France

100RC has given us a unique opportunity to join an international community confronting the greatest challenges of the century, and has furthermore provided tools to address them in our cities. Thanks to 100RC, the City of Paris embraced the resilience paradigm as a way to improve efficiency and better connect climate and social policies. The resilience lens has sparked a shift from the siloed traditional risk approach by city government, to an integrated vision that incorporates solutions design and implementation. In this way, 100RC helped Paris not only to embrace the resilience approach, but also to improve its own municipal management.

Craig Kesson, Chief Resilience Officer of Cape Town, South Africa

Craig Kesson, Chief Resilience Officer of Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town has found the partnership with 100RC to be invaluable. As a city, we are currently completing the first phase of the strategy development process and the constant support from 100RC has provided us with a wealth of insight and guidance. Being part of the 100RC Network has also opened up global partnerships for us with other member cities and experts, which we are excited to explore. In particular, the opportunity to work with 100RC to develop the City Water Resilience Framework is just one of the many exciting activities on the near horizon.

Toby Kent, Chief Resilience Officer of Melbourne, Australia

Since becoming a 100RC member city, we’ve had the opportunity to pursue a shared agenda across metropolitan Melbourne to be more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that we know we will face in the future. 100RC gave us the platform and tools to accelerate urban resilience action — including the language to help us communicate the interplay between chronic stresses and acute shocks, and the importance of doing the work now to be ready for the future, whatever the challenge may be. With 100RC’s support and leadership, we furthermore created the first ever metropolitan-wide resilience strategy for, but more importantly with, our city’s 32 metropolitan councils.

Eleni Myrivili, Chief Resilience Officer and Vice-Mayor for Urban Nature, Urban Resilience and Climate Change Adaptation, Athens, Greece

Eleni Myrivili, Chief Resilience Officer and Vice-Mayor for Urban Nature, Urban Resilience and Climate Change Adaptation, Athens, Greece

Having the chance to lead Athens’ resilience journey was an intense, fruitful and eventful experience. Throughout the past two years, diverse city stakeholders sat around the same table, perceptions were exchanged, opinions formed and transformed, short and long-term visions were forged.  The ongoing and exciting interactions with international experts and other member-cities widened our horizons, introduced more opportunities and strengthened our team’s efforts and resolve to create a more resilient city. The Athens Resilience Strategy for 2030 is an inclusive, diverse and forward-looking document, drafted together by municipal employees and city representatives, aiming at a more open, green, proactive and vibrant city.