The Movement We’re Building

Four years ago, I joined the Rockefeller Foundation to begin to build a movement that has grown to inspire me beyond what I could have imagined. This week, our network has gathered to celebrate our amazing accomplishments and understand why this work continues to resonate so strongly in cities throughout the world. Even more importantly, we are joining to think about the work we have to do going forward, and why it is even more important than ever.

One of the many extraordinary ways in which we’ve grown and are making an impact is through our Chief Resilience Officers (CROs) – those senior points of contact that drive this agenda in cities. When we started four years ago, the position of Chief Resilience Officer didn’t exist.

The CRO position is not just changing cities temporarily, but fundamentally altering how their governments operate. Our goal remains the same – that a mayor wouldn’t run her city without a CRO in the same way that she wouldn’t run it city without a chief of police. Even more inspiring, cities have continued to fund their CROs beyond the term of their 100RC grant – we have seen this position transcend politics when cities undergo political transitions. In fact, over a third of our network (34 cities) has experienced a political transition since they were selected and almost all have continued on their resilience building journey.

Along with our CROs, our partners are fundamental to catalyzing the change we want to see. Building resilience doesn’t get done by municipal governments alone. It takes the work of an engaged civil society, academia, private and public sectors at all levels to get the job done. When we began we only had 4 partners, and a limited understanding of the scope of the types of tools, services, and subject matter expertise cities needed in order to do with work effectively. Today, our platform of city solutions includes: 105 Platform Partners, offering 135 services that represent over $230 million in value for our member cities to access and to date, we’ve seen over 138 active or complete engagements through that work.

But resilience is not just about partners and CROs – it’s about how cities approach their problems. Together we have used the Strategy development process to change the way cities view their risk, opportunity, and resilience-building priorities. When our network last assembled, in late 2015, only three Strategies had been completed. Today, 32 cities have published Strategies, with an additional 9 projected by year’s end. And we at 100RC have grown, when we started four years ago, there were just a few of us doing this work. Now we are 110 people strong, across four regional offices in London, Singapore, Mexico City, and New York.

While we should be immensely proud of what we have accomplished, this is just the beginning. Working collectively, we have a historic opportunity. Just through the first 32 Strategies we have produced more than 1,600 initiatives. By the end of 2019, when have 100 Strategies completed, we will have no less than 5,000 initiatives – each of which will have been designed in inclusive and integrated ways with the intent of creating a resilient city. That is the opportunity. If we commit to implementing these initiatives we can change our cities and change the world. We have the chance to reduce the vulnerability and improve the well-being of 500 million people living in member cities.

These kinds of big and bold targets are important because the world continues to need them, particularly in cities, where this work is even more urgent today than we began four years ago. Cities continue to be on the frontline of the climate crisis; cities are currently home to 60% of the world’s refugees; cities will require $78T of infrastructure in the next ten years; because inequality is highest in cities; because cities lead when nations don’t.

Because together, this movement can change the world.