The Melbourne Network Exchange

This week, the city of Melbourne, Australia hosts 100 Resilient Cities and Chief Resilience Officers and resilience teams from five member cities – Boulder, Durban, New Orleans, and Semarang. Here’s why.

We have the privilege of working with our member cities around the globe to support them in their resilience-building efforts – and one of the key ways in which we do this work is by fostering knowledge and practice exchange among our member cities through our Network of Chief Resilience Officers and their teams. Network convenings with our member cities represent one of the best ways to catalyze that exchange and the innovation, new ideas and action that result from them.

By connecting resilience practitioners around the world who are facing similar challenges, we can begin to address one of the key challenges cities faces – that solutions in cities often don’t scale – and get to more innovative practices and solutions that tackle our cities’ most pressing resilience problems.

The Value of Our Network Exchange

The Melbourne Urban Biodiversity and City Resilience Exchange marks the third Exchange convened by our Network. Critically, learning and conversation doesn’t end at the close of time together. Out of the Rotterdam Exchange, CROs and city representatives collaborated to produce a practitioner-focused handbook distilling approaches that cities can take to building multi-benefit solutions to their water management challenges, and the lessons learned from our Athens Exchange are being compiled into a roadmap cities can take to approach their systems planning to build their resilience to what will continue to be a turbulent and unpredictable time as human migration continues to impact cities in the years ahead.

Participating CROs and city representatives are taking what they learned, leveraging the experiences of and relationships built with other cities and convened experts, to take concrete action on their own resilience building efforts back at home.

  • After the Rotterdam Exchange, Mexico City and 100RC Platform Partner Deltares identified a pilot collaboration on water plazas that has since led to a much larger scope of work in the city’s unique zone of Xochimilco, a UNESCO world heritage site and a residential and agricultural area threaded with islands and canals. The French Development Bank is already funding Phase I of the city’s new plan for Xochimilco, while 100RC’s partner Rebuild by Design (RBD) is leading a community engagement process to ensure that the water plazas not only provide catchment areas to control flooding, but also promote social cohesion and appealing public spaces.
  • Bangkok Chief Resilience Officer Dr. Tantikom Supachai called on the relationships deepened during the Rotterdam Exchange to leverage additional insight from his fellow member cities on the water management initiatives that he would include in Bangkok’s resilience strategy; as part of this effort, Mexico City CRO Arnoldo Matus Kramer along with other Exchange participants CRO Jeff Hebert from New Orleans and CRO Arnould Molenaar of Rotterdam all provided peer review and insights from their own water management initiatives to further Bangkok’s strategy – which is slated for release later this month

Urban Biodiversity and City Resilience

The intersection of population growth, urbanization, resource scarcity and climate change is posing unprecedented threats to biodiversity around the globe. In the context of our cities, biodiversity is fundamental to the functioning of the natural ecosystems that play a critical role in cities – through their delivery of a wide range of goods and services including food, water, air quality, climate regulation, protection from natural hazards, measurable health and economic benefits.

As such, urban biodiversity is a critical asset in strengthening cities’ resilience to a broad range of disturbances – and failure to protect or enhance it as a missed opportunity to unlock the economic, health, and social dividends that strengthen our cities’ ability to thrive no matter what happens.

Though there is such a wealth of literature and information on the importance and benefits of biodiversity preservation and enhancement, these considerations are all too often absent from the decisions that planners and policymakers are taking that will ultimately shape the urban landscapes of our cities in the years to come.

Our charge over the next few days is not just to focus on surfacing the specific interventions that preserve and enhance biodiversity and the potential value to be derived from those interventions – the what – but we must also deepen our understanding of and appreciation for the tactics, political approaches, financing, and incentives that led to the uptake (or failure) of those interventions in our municipalities – the how.

We hope to leverage the learnings from the Exchange and translate them into a practitioner resource for CROs, planners, municipal leaders and others that helps support decision making on issues of land use and biodiversity and helps cities to meet the demand for urban biodiversity preservation and enhancement moving forward.

The Chief Resilience Officers from our five member cities offer a global perspective on this important conversation and have brought the best and brightest with them – from senior city leadership to academic and non-profit leaders in the biodiversity space. We’ll be mining the wealth of experience of 100RC partners gathered here today such as The Nature Conservancy, Earth Economics and AECOM. In addition, the collective wisdom of the Melbourne experts from all sectors will be invaluable as we dive into this work.

Our charge for this week is to be open and creative, to leverage our best thinking and share and challenge one another to make the most of our time together. We’re confident that the conversations here in Melbourne will continue long after we’ve departed at the end of the week.

These exchanges give our resilience leaders the opportunity to collaborate with their peers around common resilience challenges and design immersive learning experiences in a member city that lead to the creation of new solutions, opportunities and learnings. If we’re successful, participating CROs and city team members take this knowledge, innovations and solutions back to their cities to reshape their resilience-building efforts now and in the future.