A New Era for the Urban Resilience Movement

In late July, we had an opportunity to harness the incredible momentum of an urban resilience movement that began a mere 4 years ago — at The Urban Resilience Summit 2017. Along with celebrating the great strides we have already made, we solidified their purpose and intent: enriching the lives of the 500 million people who call our 100 cities home and ensuring our collective future is a vibrant one.

Watch the keynote address from The Urban Resilience Summit:

Our work is even more urgent than when we began, with cities not only still on the frontlines of all the biggest global challenges and opportunities of the 21st Century, but increasingly taking the lead when nations cannot. The focus, energy, leadership and collaboration that we all witnessed and exhibited over the week made that clear, orienting us and fixing the North Star that points us all in the direction we need to go to realize this historic opportunity.

From high level plenary sessions that helped frame our conversations, to peer and partner working groups that discussed topics ranging from social inclusion to leveraging resilience value from infrastructure investment, to building economic resilience in low income communities, to data analytics for cities; to individual network sessions for CROs, Strategy Partners, and Platform Partners; to the incredible Living Labs throughout the city of New York that brought to life all of our major challenges and potential for solutions, including post-disaster climate change mitigation & community development in Edgemere in the Rockaways; food system vulnerability and resilience in Hunts Point in the Bronx; tactics for addressing urban migration in Queens; to exploring the city’s relationship to water in Brooklyn and Queens.

We also joined in thematic sessions that allowed our CROs and other practitioners to further collaborate on strategies for their futures, such as building resilience on the metropolitan scale, financing infrastructure through resilience, planning and construction for future resilience in high-growth cities, and many more.

As we return to our respective cities and daily routines, we will have a chance to reflect on the week and gain the kind of insight that will make it even more valuable. Already we can already take away several important observations and lessons as we go forward: the community of practice is taking hold; we are determined to take collective action for change; we need to invest in measurement to prove impact of resilience interventions; we need to focus on the challenge of balancing systems change with project delivery; and more awareness of common challenges, areas of expertise, and solutions across the network will allow us to maximize our movement’s resources and find new resources.

This is a new era for our movement. How we adopt what we learned from this is a critical part of how we can accomplish the goals are we setting for it. As we set forth and continue our work, we must keep sight of the important questions we are asking each other and which we have already heard valuable insights on:

  1. What political resources can we leverage to implement effectively?
  2. What changes are needed upstream in the 100RC process in order to set us up for success in implementation?
  3. How can we better leverage the power of the network to identify opportunities for collective action?
  4. How can we preserve the resilience value in projects while ensuring they can also be implemented in a reasonable time frame?
  5. How do we more effectively crowd in existing resources or find new ones for implementation?
  6. How should the CRO role change in implementation?
  7. How can partners more generally collaborate with the movement beyond their service offering?
  8. After this week, what commitments will you make to take this work forward, either in city or as a network?

I walk away from the week energized and inspired, and challenged — to keep thinking about everything we can accomplish and ways we should aim to do so to help the most people we can. I am mindful of the incredible voices and leadership that we all contributed, from our longest-serving CROs to our most recent additions, to platform partners and other allies who are eager to help us all catalyze this movement that can help shape the lives of billions.