100 Resilient Cities Explore the Strategy

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The catastrophic events of Hurricanes Irma and María elevated a plea to reimagine Puerto Rico, as it moves forward on its path towards recovery and reconstruction.

This process should not focus only on replacing outdated infrastructure, but also must foster a social and economic transformation across the Island to create a more just, equitable and resilient society. As part of the numerous recovery efforts that emerged, the Resilient Puerto Rico Advisory Commission was created in November 2017 to serve as a unifying force among a diverse group of Puerto Rican voices.

The Commission’s goal is to promote a stronger, more resilient Puerto Rico as it embarks on reimagining development and reconstruction with more public participation and transparency in the recovery processes where the people of Puerto Rico take an active role in forging the vision of the Island. The Commission’s core project, ReImagina Puerto Rico, aimed at producing an actionable and timely set of recommendations for how to maximize philanthropic, local government, and federal recovery funds. The purpose of the project was to help rebuild Puerto Rico in a way that makes the Island stronger – physically, economically, and socially – and better prepared to confront future challenges.

 

01 Cross-cutting Strategies

02 Priority Recommendations

03 Housing Reduce risk exposure, foster community empowerment, and address the diversity in socioeconomic conditions, housing types, and tenure in Puerto Rico

04 Energy Transforming Puerto Rico's electric power infrastructure into an affordable, reliable and innovative system, while reducing adverse impacts on human health and the environment

05 Physical Infrastructure Develop and maintain infrastructure systems that are accessible, integrated, flexible, and robust enough so they may sustain critical operations for the well-being of Puerto Ricans

06 Health, Education & Social Services Ensure the provision of health, educational, and social services to reduce existing and future vulnerabilities, and chart a pathway toward improved equity and well-being

07 Economic Development A diversified portfolio of economic activities that augment Puerto Rico’s resiliency by enhancing existing capabilities, improving employment prospects, and reducing inequalities

08 Natural Infrastructure Improve human health and well-being, foster economic development, and reduce exposure to hazards, through the sustainable use of Puerto Rico’s natural resources

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01

The Commission identified six crosscutting strategies focused on addressing interrelated unmet needs associated with socioeconomic distresses, economic constraints, and limited adaptive capacities identified during the ReImagina Puerto Rico engagement process. As an initial step to encourage a long-term vision for Puerto Rico, these strategies will foster best practices in the recovery and transformation process by attending unmet needs revealed by the passing of Hurricanes Irma and María.

They include:

  1. Adopt a universal accessibility policy for the reconstruction efforts
  2. Establish effective and equitable community participation
  3. Implement evidence-based approaches to foster transparency and capacity building
  4. Promote innovation in reconstruction efforts
  5. Develop resilient and empowered communities
  6. Integrate a resilience dividend in all investments

02

These are 17 recommendations that have been highlighted from the sector reports as being particularly crosscutting, valued by participants as high priority, actionable, and attending critical issues. Each of these recommendations addresses several of the challenges and unmet needs of Puerto Rico. In this sense, these are initiatives that impact the rebuilding of Puerto Rico and significantly strengthen the Island’s resilience.

These include:

  • Develop feasible models to establish land tenure and community ownership in informal housing
  • Develop resilient community centers to improve
    the provision of services during emergencies and
    disaster relief
  • Prioritize Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funding for training, re-training, and skills credentialing within priority industry clusters
  • Commission a study to support the deployment (underground and aerial) of a more resilient telecommunications infrastructure
  • Develop a master integrated Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP) for critical infrastructures and providers
  • Improve data collection, management and
    dissemination to ensure information transparency, reliability, and access
  • Develop and implement a disaster resilience strategy for the micro and small businesses of Puerto Rico
  • Introduce alternative energy sources to power transportation-related infrastructure

03

Reduce risk exposure, foster community empowerment, and address the diversity in socioeconomic conditions, housing types, and tenure in Puerto Rico

Key initiatives include:

  • Update the Island’s digital land cadastre to include: use and occupancy of structures, land tenure data, housing characteristics in informal settlements, and information on insurance coverage
  • Develop feasible models to establish land tenure and/or community ownership in informal housing
  • Establish an Island-wide housing emergency management protocol that includes a voucher program for temporary housing, temporary rent control, foreclosure moratorium, and monitoring and prevention of predatory lending
  • Repair, improve and retrofit public housing dwellings and facilities towards more resilient designs, including mitigation projects for public housing projects located in risk-prone areas
  • Establish municipal and non-governmental land-banks to create: (a) lease buyback programs to prevent mortgage foreclosures and (b) buyout schemes to acquire code-compliant foreclosed or vacant properties for affordable housing in hazard-free areas
  • Establish community-based emergency response procedures, identify emergency shelters, and train community volunteers
  • Create loans, grants, or subsidy programs to incentivize and support improvements on the physical resilience of existing housing
  • Establish a building retrofit program in selected receptive communities
  • Create insurance pools and build public awareness to expand access to and utilization of disaster insurance

04

Transforming Puerto Rico's electric power infrastructure into an affordable, reliable and innovative system, while reducing adverse impacts on human health and the environment

Key initiatives include:

  • Prepare a new Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), with public, community, and private sector participation, to be used as the foundation for the energy sector transformation and which includes an updated analysis and forecast of the demand base, aggressive renewable generation targets, and a risk-based analysis of the sector to strengthen utility oversight and operator decision making
  • Rebuild, harden and modernize the transmission and distribution system for a minimum of energy security and resiliency
  • Integrate microgrids, mini-grids, and renewable energy into the Island’s transmission and distribution grid to the greatest extent possible
  • Facilitate access to backup energy systems/equipment to fill remaining gaps in individuals’ capacity to generate backup electric power for small businesses
  • Create consumer participatory and collaborative mechanisms and public education initiatives to strengthen informed public decision making and engagement on efficient energy usage and the development of resilient energy systems
  • Promote the revitalization of Puerto Rico’s hydroelectric generation resources, as long as it is cost-effective

05

Develop and maintain infrastructure systems that are accessible, integrated, flexible, and robust enough so they may sustain critical operations for the well-being of Puerto Ricans

Critical Infrastructure initiatives include:

  • Develop an integrated critical infrastructure management strategy to guide resilient long-term reconstruction
  • Implement an integrated flood risk management approach
  • Improve the Puerto Rico Four Year Investment Program (PICA) with a risk-based asset management framework and integrated enforcement to embed resilience in the Island’s infrastructure
  • Assess and reduce the vulnerability of critical infrastructure against landslides
  • Improve the waste management industry to enhance metrics gathering, industry data mining and analysis, and fund allocation
  • Commission a study of potential solutions to build an Island-wide Next Generation Network that supports the long-term telecommunication needs
  • Commission a study to support the deployment (underground and aerial) of a more resilient telecommunications infrastructure
  • Align reconstruction projects on the water systems to promote performance improvement on potable water infrastructure
  • Increase robustness and flexibility of vulnerable wastewater treatment systems
  • Increase broadband adoption programs to support universal adoption of next-generation communications services
  • Introduce alternative energy sources to power transportation-related infrastructure
  • Update Puerto Rico building codes in order to enhance
    their enforcement on critical infrastructure, and promote
    nature-based solutions
  • Develop an inventory of emergency response
    equipment, and train personnel to maintain and deploy
    such equipment

Place-based Infrastructure initiatives include:

  • Develop resilient community centers to improve the provision of services during emergencies and disaster relief
  • Develop an outreach and education program on domestic water treatment and storage in order to improve drinking water quality, at the point of consumption in times of emergency, for rural communities
  • Improve solid waste management in urban and rural communities by adopting a circular economy approach

06

Ensure the provision of health, educational, and social services to reduce existing and future vulnerabilities, and chart a pathway toward improved equity and well-being

Key initiatives include:

  • Optimize healthcare financing to reduce the proportion of uninsured people and the shortage of healthcare professionals, and improve quality, access, and continuity of healthcare provision in disaster-related emergencies
  • Address the social and environmental determinants of health that contribute to disease burden
  • Explore opportunities for workforce training, placement, and retention in the education sector
  • Invest in improvements to the physical infrastructure of healthcare facilities in order to improve the provision of services on a regular basis and in the face of multiple hazards
  • Identify and support vulnerable members of the population to address healthcare and social services needs related to the management of catastrophic events and emergencies, as well as the ongoing care needs of this population

07

A diversified portfolio of economic activities that augment Puerto Rico’s resiliency by enhancing existing capabilities, improving employment prospects, and reducing inequalities

Key initiatives include:

  • Develop and implement a disaster resilience strategy for the micro and small businesses of Puerto Rico
  • Leverage Hurricane María reconstruction investments to advance the construction sector’s recovery, innovation, and resilience
  • Prioritize Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funding for training, re-training, and skills credentialing within priority industry clusters
  • Support and communicate clear pathways for Puerto Rico’s youth and young adults to establish businesses, social enterprises, and professional services careers in Puerto Rico’s Next Generation Economy
  • Strengthen broad-based, community-level economic development initiatives, building and strengthening Puerto Rico’s community economic development organizations and their networks through sustained, collective investments from the Puerto Rican diaspora associations, foundations, and crowd-sourcing activities
  • Review existing laws and regulations and simplify the permitting and licensing processes that are required to open a business, without compromising human or environmental capital, and attracting new investment

08

Improve human health and well-being, foster economic development, and reduce exposure to hazards, through the sustainable use of Puerto Rico’s natural resources

Key initiatives include:

  • Develop comprehensive watershed plans using integrated water resources management to promote the sustainable use of water resources and maximize the resultant economic and social well-being
  • Adopt a post-disaster framework to delimitate the coastal maritime zone and effectively define land uses, development codes, and protect coastal ecosystems adapted to current and future conditions
  • Enforce open space determinations with programs/guidelines for the dedication of lands to the creation of parks, green infrastructure projects, land conservation, or other adequate uses
  • Develop key policies, within and beyond the Common Agricultural Policy, to foster agroecology
  • Develop an integrated treatment program for wastewater and stormwater run-off to reduce sewage pollution affecting freshwater, coastal, and marine resources
  • Develop a training and capacity-building program to promote key green businesses in the recovery process
  • Develop an integrated recycling program to promote the use of resourceful construction materials and create green jobs
  • Develop an emergency preparedness and response plan for Puerto Rico’s natural resources

Read Puerto Rico's Resilience Strategy