Addressing the UN Climate Summit
“The Rockefeller Foundation is investing more than a half-billion dollars in helping all types of communities, but cities in particular, build economic, social and climate resilience.”
As I mentioned in yesterday’s update, I was pleased to be invited by the UN Secretary General to address his Climate Summit on The Rockefeller Foundation’s ongoing work to build urban resilience.
Here’s the statement I delivered in full:
I want to thank the Secretary General for recognizing the important priority we must address to build greater climate resilience, and for inviting me to speak on the significant investments that The Rockefeller Foundation is making in this area.
The health of our planet is dependent on the resilience of both our ecosystems and our built environment. A focus on building greater climate resilience provides a critical opportunity to integrate life-saving adaptation and mitigation strategies. Contributing to the challenges presented by our changing climate, the world’s population is urbanizing more rapidly than at any time in human history. The increasing frequency of extreme weather events, disease outbreaks, and other types of shocks and stresses, burden cities’ economic systems, infrastructure, social cohesion, and critical ecosystems.
“The health of our planet is dependent on the resilience of both our ecosystems and our built environment.”
Meanwhile, many rural areas are undergoing constant stress due to lack of water and chronic drought, forcing many people to become climate refugees and move into already overcrowded and under-resourced urban areas.
At The Rockefeller Foundation, we see building resilience as a defining challenge of our 21st century world. We define resilience as the capacity of individuals, communities, organizations and systems to survive, adapt, and grow in the face of shocks and stresses, and even transform when conditions require it.
The Rockefeller Foundation is investing more than a half-billion dollars in helping all types of communities, but cities in particular, build economic, social and climate resilience. I’ll briefly mention four of our initiatives:
First, our Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network—or ACCCRN—has been building the climate resilience of vulnerable cities and people in Asia. Our partnerships with governments and NGOs in dozens of cities is generating knowledge and platforms to equip local and national governments, multilateral donors and the private sector to make resilience investments. By 2016, more than 50 of Asia’s most vulnerable cities in six countries—India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Bangladesh, and the Philippines—will have generated a resilience strategy and received resilience funding through ACCCRN and related funding streams.
Second, we are working with the United States government to more strategically deploy U.S. disaster recovery funds toward building greater and more resilient infrastructure.
“Resilience is an urgent social and economic issue.”
Third, last week we announced a $150 million dollar partnership with USAID and the Swedish International Development Agency. The partnership’s focus is on three of the world’s regions most vulnerable to the impact of climate change: the Sahel, the horn of Africa, and South and Southeast Asia. Its strategy is to align development assistance more closely with building climate resilience. In this way, not only will disasters be less detrimental to development progress, but less money will be required for disaster recovery and relief and investments in development more fully protected while providing greater security for households to protect their assets and break the cycle of extreme poverty that climate change helps trap them in.
And forth, to mark our Centennial last year, we launched our $100 million dollar, 100 Resilient Cities Challenge to build urban resilience in 100 cities worldwide and create a community of practice globally.
The 100 Resilient Cities platform of resilience goods and services for the cities will leverage the expertise and hundreds of millions of dollars from actors as diverse as Swiss Re, Palantir, the World Bank Group, Ushahidi, Sandia National Laboratories, AzkoNobel, Risk Management Solutions, Veolia, and The Nature Conservancy. We anticipate that number to grow significantly in the coming years.
Through our work we have learned that resilience provides a holistic lens for investment and action, while also enabling activities that improve the economic, social, and physical well-being of people, and the health of our planet, every day. It’s what we call “the resilience dividend.”