Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan, is one of this year’s 35 winners of this year’s “100 Resilient Cities Challenge,” joining a network created by The Rockefeller Foundation last year, organizers announced Wednesday during a summit in Singapore.
This second wave of cities will join 32 cities that won last year’s 100 Resilient Cities Challenge, forming a growing network of urban centers around the world that are “ready to respond to the social, economic and physical shocks and stresses that are a growing part of the 21st century.”
The “100 Resilient Cities” movement was created by an initial $100 million commitment by the Rockefeller Foundation as part of its centennial celebration last year, recognizing the trends of urbanization and globalization that characterize this century.
“Members of the ‘100 Resilient Cities’ network are leading the world in showing that not only is it possible to build urban resilience in every kind of city, but it’s an imperative,” said Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation.
“Cities are learning that by building resilience, not only will they be better prepared for the bad times, but also life is better in the good times, especially for the poor and vulnerable. It’s smart investment, and yields a resilience dividend that is a win for everyone,” she said.
Other cities included in this year’s selection are: Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic; Juarez, Mexico; Accra, Ghana; Cali, Colombia; Paris, France; and, Santiago, Chile, among others.
Why ‘Resilient Cities’?
As the number of people living in urban areas grows from 50 percent of the world’s population to an estimated 70 percent in 2050, cities around the world must cope with effects of rapid urbanization, globalization, climate change, and natural and man-made disasters.
Urban resilience is the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses and systems to survive, adapt and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience. From the impact of super-typhoons, to growing socio-economic inequality or the ability of city systems to respond to booming populations and waning food supplies, “100 Resilient Cities” aims to equip urban areas with the tools and support network to design, develop and implement holistic solutions.
“Each city is unique, and through the [‘100 Resilient Cities’] network, cities are building on each other’s experiences, and learning the best resilience-building techniques,” said Michael Berkowitz, president of “100 Resilient Cities.”
“By connecting cities with each other and to resilience-building experts, we are aiming to create a global practice of scalable resilience solutions, so that cities can respond to the challenges of this urban century more effectively and efficiently,” he said.
Building a global network of ‘Resilient Cities’
The diverse list reflects the need to learn from cities of all sizes across the globe in order to adapt and innovate. The cities in the “100 Resilient Cities” network face myriad sets of environmental and social challenges — ranging from rising threats of flooding and extreme weather, to intensifying strains on infrastructure and health systems, and deepening economic stresses — and are on different points of their journey towards building a more resilient metropolis.
Each city on the network is eligible to receive grant funding to hire a chief resilience officer, who will lead the analysis, planning and implementation of the city’s resilience strategy, working with different government agencies and across sectors of society.
They will also receive technical support and services they need as they work toward implementing that strategy, as well as access a variety of platform partners in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. These partners will offer tools in areas such as innovative finance, technology, infrastructure, land use, and community and social resilience, The Rockefeller Foundation said.
“Momentum from last year’s inaugural challenge made this year highly competitive, spanning over 90 countries across six continents. This year’s cities were chosen from nearly 350 applicants on the basis of their ability to demonstrate a unique vision for resilience, a long-term commitment to cutting across silos of government and sectors of society, a special attention to the needs of the poor and vulnerable. Network cities serve as a model for other global cities that seek to build their own resilience,” the Foundation said.
Member cities were selected upon the recommendation of an international panel of judges. The “100 Resilient Cities Challenge” will open for its next round of city applications in mid-2015.