Stronger cities, better lives

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Bill Banks
EY Global Government & Public Sector Infrastructure Leader

The Rockefeller Foundation spun off an organization called 100 Resilient Cities (100RC), which involves creating a network of cities around the world that are working together to build resilience. Michael Berkowitz is President of 100RC. He joined the Rockefeller Foundation in August 2013 to shape and oversee the 100RC initiative.

Once selected to become part of the network, Member Cities receive support to establish the role of chief resilience officer (CRO); support for the development of a resilience strategy; connections with other members, so that cities can share experiences; and access to solutions, service providers, and partners from the private, public and NGO sectors. Earlier this year, EY entered a five-year commitment to support the 100RC initiative by becoming one of these partners.

Quick wins

It has only been three years since 100RC was established. Changes such as infrastructure improvements usually take far longer to come to fruition, but Michael can already point to examples of early success.

“We’ve seen cities win big competitive awards on the back of their strategies and the strength of their CROs. In Norfolk, Virginia, for example, the CRO came home with the single largest grant ever awarded to the city, of US$120 million.”

And the 100RC approach to risk and resilience is already spreading. “Other cities that aren’t in the network are copying the model,” says Michael. “We’ve seen cities naming their own chief resilience officers and adopting this idea of holistic resilience. The goal is not to change 100 cities, the goal is to change every city around the world.”

The long haul

For Michael, one of the things that was not clear when the initiative started but has now moved into focus is the value that 100RC can add not just in the planning process, but over the life cycle of implementation.

“When you think about a project, first you have to scope it, then you have to do cost benefit and environmental assessments, and then you put a deal together and try to fund and build it. Cities get stuck in different places along that way.

“When we have the right partners, like EY, who can help cities get over those different hurdles, and if we can stay connected with our cities throughout the implementation life span of 10 or 20 years, then we can really help cities move the needle.”

And that gets to the heart of the legacy that 100RC aspires to leave.

“We want the urban resilience movement to flourish and to be something that we talk about in the same way we talk about sustainability, community policing or any of the big urban innovations of the last 20 years. We don’t want this to be just the latest buzzword and then for things to move on.”


For more information please contact Bill Banks

Click here to read the full interview with Michael Berkowitz.


This article is excerpted from the November 2016 edition of Citizen Today. See also these featured articles: