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City Mayors More Engaged in Resilience Planning

Cross posted from

Construction Workers
Photo credit: 100 Resilient Cities

The city mayors and state governors of this world are a special breed. They need to be hard-driving, but still able to balance toughness with compassion. They have to be masters of compromise but nevertheless still deliver on the promises they make to the public.

These are the qualities they need to govern effectively in normal circumstances. In times of adversity, city mayors require all the above plus an ability to reassure the populace and mobilize the resources to expedite a community’s recovery following a calamity.

Just consider the massive challenges the mayors of Fukushima and Christchurch must have faced following the earthquakes that struck these urban centres in 2011. I’m not saying that it’s just down to these officials to take the right action. But it does fall to them to be the first responders so-to-speak when it comes to strengthening the resilience of the communities in their care.

All that said, this quality of resilience has to be sustainable in the longer term as well. So many city and state governments are now engaged in greater pre-emptive planning for natural disasters.

For example, following Sandy NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg has proposed a USD 20 billion infrastructure project designed to protect the city’s shoreline against future storm surges and hurricanes.

The realization of expensive schemes to protect against natural disasters, whether in New York or elsewhere, will depend to no small degree on the single-mindedness and arm-twisting ability of city and state administrators, people committed to doing their best for the communities they serve.

But they will also depend on depend on public-private collaboration – with the participation of the insurance sector – to make available more funding for infrastructure projects in the urban environment. As weather related disasters intensify, city governments need to prepare for natural disasters more systematically than in the past. Here, too, risk management experts from the global re/insurance industry could provide valuable assistance.

If you have not already seen Swiss Re’s new publication entitled, “Mind the Risk,” I encourage you to take a look: it’s a must-read for mayors and governors. The publication analyses the natural disaster risks to which the world’s largest cities are exposed and, more importantly, suggests concrete ways they can successfully cope with the financial consequences of extreme events. In addition to access to funding for relief, recovery and reconstruction measures, the publication also highlights solutions that help bridge the gap between economic and insured losses and reduce the financial burden on local communities.

It’s with tremendous pride that Swiss Re has joined the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities commitment announced by Bill Clinton earlier this week. We very much look forward to working with city mayors and the partners of this project to play our part in this important movement.

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