For 50 years, The Rockefeller Foundation has been inspired by, and helped to catalyze, the incredible innovation, ingenuity, and opportunity of cities. But as we move deeper into the 21st century, stresses and shocks are coming faster and faster. They are hitting hard in all parts of the world, and cities bear the brunt because that’s where the most people in the world now live.
In the early part of the 21st century people and organizations were largely focused on climate-related shocks. But we also faced other challenges that were equally powerful and destructive. Social unrest was increasing in momentum in many places around the globe. Economic shocks were still reeling in the post-recession world. Disease outbreaks, cyberterrorism, earthquakes, and infrastructure failures were part of our every day news cycle.
Yet most cities lacked the technical skills, organizational structures, and even the right language to deal with these challenges cohesively. We saw a need to help cities act on these challenges in a more integrated, and holistic, way.
And so three years ago, we launched 100 Resilient Cities on our Foundation’s Centennial.
We knew that it would be among our most ambitious efforts, in the same spirit as the Green Revolution launched by our Rockefeller predecessors, which fed 1 billion people around the world.
The scope of the challenges required nothing less than our greatest ambition. But we’ve been outmatched by the energy and commitment of the cities themselves.
In just three years:
- More than a dozen cities in the network have already released sophisticated, detailed resilience strategies that ensure they can reap resilience dividends by solving multiple problems through single investments.
- Our platform partners from the private sector, academia, and NGOs, are providing cities with innovative resilience goods, services, technical expertise, and technologies. More than 120 engagements are at work in cities today,
- We also have more than 50 Chief Resilience Officers who are already at work in cities around the world, leading-resilience building efforts and ensuring that every sector is represented and empowered.
Today we announced the final 37 cities to round off the first 100 Resilient Cities. More than any other cohort, these cities join us with eyes wide open, with a deep understanding of resilience and the transformations it will require in how they work and put the financing behind it.
100 is only the beginning. We are building more than a network—we are building a movement. And from here on, we’re going to be focused on two things: doing great work in these 100 cities and expanding this practice across the globe.
So, to the cities that have applied but haven’t been accepted: don’t worry. In not too long, you’ll be hearing from us again in how you too can take part in this movement in a direct and action oriented way. But for today, let’s welcome these 37 cities and celebrate all 100.
This movement begins today.
This post was based on remarks delivered at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, May 25, 2016