Today the 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge opens for applications. The Rockefeller Foundation is also launching this official website for the Challenge, inviting individuals to join us in a global conversation about urban resilience and what we can all do to make our cities places of growth and opportunity now and in the future. With this new site, we invite cities around the world to register to apply for the challenge, and we also aim to foster a lively global conversation around urban resiliency.
100 years ago, when the Rockefeller Foundation was granted its charter with the mission to promote the well-being of humanity around the world, only 10 percent of humanity lived in cities. So when the advisers to the young philanthropy debated what issues would dominate its attention in those early years, disease threats and medical education in China made the top of the list. Cities were nowhere to be found.
But in today’s hyper-connected world, our challenges are distinguished by their frequency, scale, and ability to ripple over borders and across continents. Once-in-a-lifetime storms now threaten the Eastern Seaboard of the United States every few years. Disasters in urban areas can impact millions of people and shut down entire economic systems and supply chains. And whether they are public health threats, contagions in our financial markets, or volatile weather events, our challenges are indeed shared challenges, and vulnerability in one area often shakes the stability of another.
We can’t predict when or where the next crisis will hit. The only thing we know for sure is that they will. But despite that certainty, cities on the whole are woefully unprepared to manage these shocks, lacking the technical expertise and financial resources to create and execute resilience strategies on a citywide scale.
With 75 percent of people expected to call cities home by 2050, we all have a stake in building urban resilience worldwide.
To build on this mission, we were excited in May to launch the 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge, a $100 million effort to build urban resilience around the world.
Each winning city will receive three forms of support:
- Membership in the newly formed 100 Resilient Cities Network, which will provide support to member cities and share new knowledge and resilience best practices.
- Support to hire a Chief Resilience Officer (CRO), a new innovation. The CRO will oversee the development of a resilience strategy for the city.
- Support to create a resilience plan, along with tools and resources for implementation.
While every city’s resilience journey will be different based on the unique needs of their populations and geographies, building the resilience of our urban places will be critical to face down new challenges and threats, some of which we have begun to imagine and plan for—many we have not. Our future is undeniably urban. Now is the time for action to ensure our cities remain places of opportunity for the next 100 years.
What will you do to help build resilience in your city?
Judith Rodin is the President of the Rockefeller Foundation.