On September 10th, this year’s 100 Resilient Cities Challenge will close, and 100RC, along with a group of dedicated judges, will start the process of selecting our next 33 member cities. There’s one question that we’re hearing time and time again during the application process, from people all around the world: “What are you looking for in future 100RC cities?”
Well, since last December we’ve travelled thousands of miles to cities around the world, hosted 30 resilience workshops, helped select 12 Chief Resilience Officers and launched three “resilience strategy” planning processes. We’ve learned a lot about what makes a good city, and I want to share some of those learnings in the hopes of answering that question.
While each city is different, we’ve found that our strongest partners share four characteristics:
- An innovative, engaged and committed Chief Executive – We believe that resilience building is broader than just city government, but we also know city government is necessary. From Christchurch to Medellin and in-between, we’ve found that having a mayor with these characteristics leads to a stronger, more empowered CRO; more decisions being made through a resilience lens; and a more comprehensive, cross-siloed and cross-sectored resilience building process. We’ve also found it important to have some measure of political stability, since the process unfolds over the course of several years.
- A recent catalyst for change – It may seems obvious, but it bears repeating: A city that has a strong catalyst for change, be it a recent shock (e.g. Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans) or a truly pressing stress (e.g. rising sea levels in Norfolk) is likely to be more engaged in the resilience building process.
- A demonstrated ability to work with a broad range of invested stakeholders – Shocks and stresses affect everyone in a city, so resilience building must be done across silos of government and sectors of society. In places like Los Angeles, we are seeing collaboration among everyone from business leaders, to advocates for the homeless, to academic water experts taking part in the planning process. This participation by a range of stakeholders ensures that as many resilience challenges as possible are being surfaced, and that everyone’s resilience needs – especially those of the poor and vulnerable – will be addressed.
- A willingness to engage in a partnership – 100 Resilient Cities seeks to work closely with cities over a multi-year process, building a deep and abiding partnership, and a give and take. We’re looking for cities that are willing to work with us to build resilience, that have an open mind towards the process, and that can incorporate feedback from a wide variety of sources.
So there you have it – the qualities we’d like to see from our future member cities. Of course, not all of them will have all four characteristics, and having all four doesn’t guarantee that a city will be selected. But as we review applications from cities around the world, starting this September, these are the qualities we’ll be keeping our eye out for.
President, 100 Resilient Cities
*Head photo: Mahmood Salem, Flickr