CROs Gather in New Orleans: Derick Hingle

Five Lessons from the World’s First Chief Resilience Officer Summit

Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published on November 25, 2014. As we near the time when members of the second round of Resilient Cities will appoint their own Chief Resilience Officers, we wanted to revisit the power of the position and what happens when you bring the world’s resilience leaders together. 

Earlier this month, the world’s first Chief Resilience Officers (CROs) convened in New Orleans for 100 Resilient Cities’ inaugural CRO Summit. CROs from 19 countries, leading resilience practitioners from the public, private and non-profit sectors, and leaders from across the city of New Orleans spent four days focused on building the practice of resilience, both in their cities and globally.

We brought together a dynamic group of experts to tackle some of the most complex challenges our cities face. And the results were nothing short of inspiring. Here are the five biggest “ah-ha” moments to come out of this first CRO Summit:

1. A broad view of resilience can be transformative for CROs and the world’s leading resilience practitioners

Our chief resilience officers brought an exceptional diversity of expertise to the Summit. Each came to New Orleans with his or her own specific view of what “resilience building” means, based on the resilience challenges their cities face. Over the course of the Summit they leveraged the City Resilience Framework and 100RC’s strategy and platform partners to broaden this view in ways that recognize and acknowledge the complex web of interdependencies at work in their communities. This broader view of resilience will help the cities identify ways to grow stronger regardless of which shocks or stresses they face in the future.

2. Cities need to reframe their problems by asking themselves better questions

We are all look for solutions where we are comfortable. Cities prone to hurricanes, earthquakes, or other shocks, more readily commit resources to addressing these known problems. But building an effective resilience strategy requires looking at the complex, interconnected challenges a city faces, and anticipating the downstream impacts of any given solution, even if it is unfamiliar. At the Summit, we encouraged attendees to get out of their comfort space, go beyond silo-ed approaches, and ask different questions about the challenges and opportunities their cities will face a generation from now, particularly given the pressures of urbanization, globalization, climate change and uncertain technological change.

3. Nothing can replace face-to-face time for sharing resilience expertise

The four days CROs spent building professional and personal connections led to a rich and fruitful discussion that otherwise would have been impossible. Without the trust and camaraderie built through this face-to-face time, fostering honest exchange and candid sharing necessary for the constructive feedback that surfaced in the final days of the Summit would not have been possible. CROs left the Summit with a new, strong foundation for their network – a global cohort of resilience practitioners empowered to collaborate in a new space to further the practice of city resilience around the world.

4. Cities need to identify and confront market and information inefficiencies head on

One of the key problems 100 Resilient Cities is trying to address is that existing solutions to resilience challenges are not scaling – cities frequently find themselves reinventing the wheel. CROs quickly brought to light the challenge of information failure as they discussed their common challenges and the myriad solutions their cities were implementing – many of them unknown or completely unfamiliar to their fellow practitioners. Cities must start sharing solutions with one another and voicing their needs to the marketplace in order to begin tackling the resilience challenges facing their cities efficiently.

5. New Orleans was an ideal learning laboratory for the first CRO Summit

By exploring multiple sites around New Orleans, including the Port of New Orleans, the Lower 9th Ward, and Central City, CROs were encouraged think about their own cities through the lens of NOLA’s resilience challenges. CROs examined the city’s strategies across a number of issues including neighborhood regeneration, economic diversity, violent crime, public health, environmental degradation, and flooding and water management. Then we challenged them to figure out what they could take home to address the interdependencies of their own complex cities’ seemingly disparate resilience challenges, in order to produce scalable solutions both in New Orleans and in their home cities.

As we get ready to announce our next round of cities, we are more excited than ever about the power of bringing together CROs and other resilience practitioners to build a global practice of resilience.

Experience the energy and power of the world’s first CRO summit in this video.