Urban Resilience for Climate Adaptation

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This article is connected to our previous post on the Asia-Pacific Resilience Prospectus, from the 100 Resilient Cities project by the Rockefeller Foundation. The project aims to support cities in the Asia Pacific to achieve urban resilience.

Urban resilience refers to how cities answer the challenges they are facing like climate change, rapid population growth, urban development, industrial and residential pollution, water resource management and wastewater management, and other challenges at the same time caring for the environment and ecosystems.

The report, “Resilient Cities, Resilient Lives” states the importance of cities in today’s century as the political and innovation centres attracting both the rich and poor alike. Urban centres are also where most people live today, hosting around 55 per cent of the world’s population and generating 80% of the global GDP.

Why Urban Resilience

“Resilient Cities, Resilient Lives” report says that the world is more densely populated and more interconnected than ever before. Cities need to develop resilience against problems like extreme weather, the refugee crisis, diseases pandemics, and cyber-attacks among many others.

Business-as-usual models like reactive planning will not be enough anymore for cities to thrive and even survive in the face of these shocks and stress, it says.

Urban resilience is borne out of 3 main issues of today: climate change, urbanization, and globalization. “Urban resilience is the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, business, and systems within a city to survive, adapt and grow” in the face of shocks and stresses (Resilient Cities, Resilient Lives, 2019).

100 Resilient Cities

On its centennial anniversary, the Rockefeller Foundation launched the 100 Resilient Cities, a nonprofit organization to help cities around the world to become more resilient amidst the challenges of the 21st century such as more extreme climatic shocks like intense heatwaves, rainfalls, and flooding due to climate change, aging infrastructure, inadequate public transformation among many others.

100RC works in six continents involving 47 member countries with a total of nearly 220 million people living in them.

100RC Program

Its long-term goal is to change the way cities around the world plan, act, and encourage them to think proactively and collaboratively particularly on how their problems are interconnected. By doing so, it will help them adapt better and reduce the vulnerability of their residents.

The report says that cities put things in silos, like disaster and response recovery, sustainability, livelihoods and well-being, land use planning, and infrastructure. It might be efficient to structure it this way but may not be the most effective way considering how interconnected the problems can be. Planning for resilience calls for an integrated, inclusive, risk-aware, and forward-looking manner, a goal that 100RC will help cities achieve.

100 cities were selected through a series of competitive challenges. It attracted over 1000 applicants from more than 150 countries. Cities selected should have complex and siloed system which results in narrow-minded solutions to immense challenges, and second that existing services or ideas that could help solve the city’s problems often do not reach it or at a scale that is efficient for them.

The 100 cities selected were offered the following:

  • finances for establishing a new position,
  • the role of a Chief Resilience Officer in their city government to lead the city’s resilience efforts,
  • technical support to develop the city’s resilience strategy,
  • access to the 100RC partners which is composed of the private and public non-profit organization that offers solutions,
  • services to support the city’s resilience strategies and implementation, and
  • a global network of member cities for mutual exchange of knowledge and best practices.

The report contains two sections. The first, details what the 100RC has learned about building urban resilience within a city which is shown by 23 examples from member cities.

The second section explores the variety of actions that member cities are taking to build resilience in specific sectors that includes climate change resilience, data and technology resilience, earthquake resilience, among many others.

Access the entire report below and see what the cities like Los Angeles, Kyoto, Mandalay, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Cape Town, El Paso, Mexico City, and many other cities are doing to build resilience.


Resilient Cities, Resilient Lives. Learning from the 100RC Network. (2019, July). Retrieved from http://100resilientcities.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/100RC-Report-Capstone-PDF.pdf

BACKGROUND PHOTO CREDIT: Kyoto and Karasuma Street as seen from Kyoto Tower by Marc Antomattei – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

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