Opening a regional office in London to expand our physical presence benefits all of our cities—and their inhabitants—from Europe to the Middle East, Latin America to Africa. This new office gives people in every city access to more diverse global resilience learnings, and provides 100RC with greater perspective and closer contact with what’s happening on the ground in more cities.
“London is one of the most influential cities in the world,” says 100RC President Michael Berkowitz. It is a reference point for civic leaders around the world for best practices on how to run a city.
The London office also serves as an important geographic bridge for the work 100RC undertakes – for both Europe and the Middle East; and will be our hub for operations in those two regions. Just prior to launching the London office, 100RC named Cristiana Fragola as the Regional Director of Europe and the Middle East. She took a few minutes to answer questions about her role heading the office and about 100RC’s work in the region.
“My role is to make sure the cities have the best support possible to unfold very robust strategic plans to enable them to tackle implementation quite soon,” said Fragola. “We want to maximize the opportunities that the region offers. The EU is just starting to shape the resilience dialogue and I think there is a lot of room for more policy, advocacy and resource mobilization to cities here.”
Q: Why Open an Office in London?
CF: If you look at the ratio of our current cities, more than 25% are in Europe and the Middle East. In order to better serve these cities and ensure that their strategy work can have real, focused support, it is essential to be in the region. There are the logistical aspects—like time zone and travel—that are much more efficient; and the advantage of having more local talent with greater familiarity of the regional context the cultural difference to the various political and economic climates. I would also hope that CROs in the region would see the office as a home away from home, a hub nearby to help focus their collaboration efforts to collaborate. Logistically, being in London will facilitate much more in-person exchange for appropriate learnings.
Q: Why is Resilience Important for this Region?
CF: I think that resilience has never been more compelling and urgent in Europe and the Middle East than it is now. Common challenges—including civil wars and a need to expand city capacities to support growing numbers of refugees and immigrants—bridge the two regions while also creating opportunities for collaborative problem solving. Urban resilience, especially with our broader lens, is incredibly relevant for the regions.
Q: What Progress are Cities Making?
CF: I’d prefer to speak in terms of trends rather than city-specific challenges, because our cities are currently working very hard to engage broad stakeholder in order to identify those challenges. I want to honor our cities’ hard work and their process. Many cities drafted their application with one approach in mind, often focusing more on challenges like the environment and infrastructure. By going through our transformative consultation process they have identified completely different challenge: for example, a need to address social cohesion, governance, and transparency. So I’d rather let it simmer and see what collective wisdom will emerge from this first round of strategies.
Q: Why did you join 100RC?
CF: I joined 100 Resilient Cities because I think it’s a fabulous organization with a very exciting challenge. I wholeheartedly believe in the importance of having this integrated, holistic approach to resilience in order to successfully shape a sustainable future for all of us. In the last few years I’ve been very much involved in the climate change piece of urban governance, planning and implementation. I’ve come to realize how important it is to address all the other interdependent areas in a city along with climate change. 100RC is ready and able to face a very exciting challenge and help foster urban resilience on both a local and global level. I am thrilled to be a part of that mission.