“Last year, we marked the ten year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and pivoted toward our goal of building a stronger, more resilient city,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “Together with our partners at The Rockefeller Foundation and 100 Resilient Cities, we launched Resilient New Orleans, the world’s first comprehensive city resilience strategy. Because being resilient means more than having levees and wetlands to hold back water, we also focused on combating the longstanding, generational challenges around crime, education, income inequality and striking a balance between human needs and the environment that surrounds us. In the last year, we’ve made tremendous progress, completing or executing on more than seventy-five percent of actions outlined in the Resilient New Orleans strategy. We’re on our way towards becoming one of the most resilient cities in the world by 2018, our City’s 300th anniversary.”
A hallmark initiative of Resilient New Orleans is the first public-private partnership on resilience, through which the city is collaborating with leading global (re)insurance provider, Swiss Re, and Veolia, a long-standing corporate partner of New Orleans with cross-functional expertise in water, waste and energy management. Together, the two companies provide New Orleans with access to a unique combination of skills, perspectives and capabilities around modeling, risk management, and operations planning. Swiss Re/Veolia developed a detailed and structured Technical and Risk Assessment that identified resilience improvements for various systems with a focus on reinforcing facilities, and improving response and recovery time. This is important for building infrastructure solutions that can withstand critical stresses and shocks, both today and in the future.
Nikhil da Victoria Lobo, Senior Vice President for Public Sector Business at Swiss Re; Mark Sanderson, Vice President for Business Development at Veolia; and Cedric Grant, Sewerage & Water Board Executive Director for New Orleans were some of the prominent stakeholders that joined 100RC President Michael Berkowitz to celebrate New Orleans and discuss how the city’s resilience strategy has changed the way it prepares for, and responds to, its 21st-century challenges.
New Orleans launched Resilient New Orleans on the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in 2015. The holistic, action-oriented strategy focuses on three visions to shape the future of the city: ‘Adapt to Thrive,’ ‘Connect to Opportunity,’ and ‘Transform City Systems.’ In the past year, New Orleans has secured more than $200 million in funding for resilience-building projects, combining water management, storm protection, workforce development, recreation, and neighborhood revitalization.
Speakers at Monday’s event updated attendees on several strategy initiatives and major accomplishments led by collaborations between the newly established Mayor’s Office of Resilience + Sustainability, as well as partners across public, private, non-profit and philanthropic sectors.
“In a 21st-century world that poses challenges like globalization, urbanization and climate change, a city’s ability to build resilience is critical to its future,” said Jeff Herbert, Deputy Mayor and CAO, CRO, City of New Orleans. “By taking aim at the actionable initiatives outlined in Resilient New Orleans, our city has become a resilience pioneer. In its first year of implementation, the strategy has leveraged cross-sector collaboration, innovation and key partnerships to make exciting progress toward our resilience goals.”
“One year after unveiling Resilient New Orleans, and 11 years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city, New Orleans continues to forge an exciting path from recovery to resilience,” said 100RC President Michael Berkowitz. “A major goal of 100 Resilient Cities was to incentivize the private sector to begin to create new products that would help cities build resilience, and today we’re seeing the first fruits of that labor.”
“This is a unique partnership, bringing two private sector companies from very different backgrounds together, in a greater endeavor to make a major cities like New Orleans more flexible and more responsive to evolving risk,” said Nikhil da Victoria Lobo, Head Global Partnerships Americas, Swiss Re. “It’s not just about having a strategy in place: it’s the actual implementation that will determine the success of New Orleans’ pioneering resiliency work. We’re excited to be playing a part in this very important journey, which is a first step to helping other cities achieve the same thing.”
“Veolia and Swiss Re have the opportunity to play a crucial role in helping cities become more resilient to such event as Hurricane Katrina”, said Laurent Auguste, Senior Executive Vice President of Innovation & Markets at Veolia. “We are strongly convinced that resilience reinforces cities attractiveness and competitiveness. That’s why we increase awareness around the vulnerability of cities’ critical infrastructures, including water systems, and accelerate activities to improve essential services continuity”.
Other partnership projects include:
- The Small Business Resilience project led by the United Nations office for Disaster Risk Reduction and AECOM. The initiative has assisted 250 New Orleans small businesses and is now evolving from the initial assessment phase to its second chapter, which will include discussions and workshops about disaster preparedness. The project has also leveraged support from the Walmart Foundation.
- ‘Living with Water,’ a series of initiatives that highlights New Orleans’ quick work to combat its most serious threats. The initiative leverages community-based organizations like Ripple Effect, a program for elementary school students, to ensure each New Orleans student has basic water literacy.
To learn more about shaping the future of a resilient New Orleans visit: resilientnola.org.
About 100 Resilient Cities
100 Resilient Cities (100RC), pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation, helps cities around the world become more resilient to social, economic, and physical challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. 100RC provides this assistance through: funding for a Chief Resilience Officer in each city who will lead the resilience efforts; resources for drafting a Resilience Strategy; access to private sector, public sector, academic, and NGO resilience tools; and membership in a global network of peer cities to share best practices and challenges. 100RC currently has 100 member cities.