As we look back at 2017 and towards the new year, it is clear that our work to help cities build urban resilience has become more essential than ever. Cities continue to emerge as the critical crossroads of the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. And I feel proud of how our movement is helping shape their pivotal role.
In 2017 we continued to grow. Our global network now has more than 80 CROs, and 36 Resilience Strategies containing over 1,800 tangible initiatives to build resilience throughout the world.
In Athens, for example, the city’s Strategy is helping guide the financing of the European Investment Bank, which has invested more than €6.4 billion in Greece over the last 5 years. The EIB recently decided to allocate up to €55 million for the implementation of resilience-building projects in Athens, having created for the first time the Athens Resilient City and Integrated Development program targeted to support the municipality in the implementation of the Athens Resilience Strategy for 2030. Reflecting the importance of interventions that tackle various shocks and stresses simultaneously, the EIB will provide technical assistance and loans for projects that address the wide range of the city’s resilience challenges, including urban rehabilitation, waste management, economy and tourism, social infrastructure and culture among other sectors.
I am also encouraged by emerging partnerships that are enabling cities to form solutions to their most pressing challenges. In Amman, the International Rescue Committee supported efforts to incorporate migration issues into the city’s Resilience Strategy. Through this, not only will Amman better integrate refugees into the life of the city, rather than leaving them to languish in isolation, but it also builds broader resilience by doing so. Through solutions that will benefit other residents and allow refugees, and other vulnerable populations, to better participate in the life of the city, Amman will grow stronger overall.
Our robust partnership with EY has included thought leadership that has deepened both our and their understanding around a number of resilience issues, including economic development and infrastructure. And our Platform Partner Deltares provided technical expertise to several of our cities dealing with complex water systems challenges in an effort to pioneer new tools that can be rolled out in other cities facing similar challenges, illustrating the potential for our broad network to catalyze and scale solutions.
Indeed, across our network we are seeing extraordinary examples of cities and partners defining the trajectory our future should take. Our Network Exchanges, Global Summit, and other important convenings, have enabled us to consistently engage with the most urgent global issues. Whether through our work on cities as the frontlines of migration; the challenges and opportunities of metropolitan governance; or helping explore ways that biodiversity can unlock the resilience dividend, we are excited to lead with the kind of innovative and impactful work that is our best promise for a vibrant future.
Many of our cities are already implementing resilience-building projects that reflect this impact and innovation. In New Orleans, the Gentilly Resilience District initiative addresses the myriad stresses that contributed to the severity of Hurricane Katrina’s destruction. The project introduces new water management systems across a residential neighborhood with over 11,000 moderate- to low-income homes, that will reduce flood risk, address soil subsidence and groundwater retention, shore up infrastructure and foster community revitalization through workforce development and engagement on water management.
In Rotterdam, the city is continuing its pioneering work in implementing green roofs and is now embarking on retrofitting roofs on a larger scale. New techniques have developed and can accommodate solar panels, urban farming, water storage and even sports facilities, contributing to sustainability and viability of the city center, water management, greening, renewable energy, better air quality and addressing lack of space.
In Medellín, the city is collaborating with Platform Partner Build Change to retrofit homes in informal settlements to improve living conditions, better incorporate them into the rest of the city and mitigate the city’s exposure to the risk of landslides and earthquakes. And in Bangkok, the city is working with Deltares to understand the root causes of flooding in the city, which occurs every year during the monsoon season. Bangkok and Deltares are exploring short-, medium-, and long-term tools, resources, and measures to mitigate the city’s flood risk, as well as develop other co-benefits such as water conservation for irrigation during drought and pilot green infrastructure.
Our CROs continue to serve as the energizing force behind so many of these partnerships and initiatives. One of our first CROs, Jeff Hebert, embodies all of the attributes that we envisioned in the role of a Chief Resilience Officer. As Jeff takes his experiences as Chief Resilience Officer to a new role at Water Institute of the Gulf, we are indebted to him and his work to helping integrate resilience into the fabric of New Orleans and the urban resilience movement. While we are sad to see him leave, we are stronger for his time in the 100RC network and better positioned to realize our goals because of him.
And throughout the year, we were reminded that the need for this work has never been greater. Destructive hurricanes, wildfires and earthquakes, such as the one in Mexico City, reminded us of the fragility that cities grapple with and must address before the next shock inevitably occurs. The impact of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico especially illustrates the need to recognize the dangers of under-investment and unaddressed stresses that expose a city or country far greater destruction and tragedy when disaster strikes.
The new year brings us into a new era of implementation that builds on this momentum. We have formed the foundation for work that has the potential to improve the lives of the 500 million people living across our global network and shape the course our future takes.
I am excited to continue this urgent work, and eager to see 2018 unfold with the energy and vision that all of us bring to it.