For Release Sunday, May 26, 2013
© 2013 Washington Post Writers Group
It’s as bold a move as one could imagine. The Rockefeller Foundation, celebrating its 100th anniversary, is launching a “100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge.” It will invest $100 million in 100 cities across the world that come up with the best and broadest plans to cope with massive natural and man-made shocks of the time.
In accepting the award, each winning city will be required to appoint a “chief resilience officer” who will work across departments to make sure strong city resilience plans are developed, refreshed and strengthened over time.
As Rockefeller Foundation president Judith Rodin puts it, we’re in a time when a “once-every-hundred-year storm becomes a once-a-week storm somewhere.” Climate change is leading to massive disruptions – all in addition to potentially dire earthquake, tsunami and infectious health challenges.
And with humankind crowding into cities by the billions – numbers unprecedented in human history – metropolises become the dominant stage for humanity.
The Rockefeller Foundation is especially concerned that the shocks of the times, while a peril to all, may most seriously affect poor and vulnerable people who have fewer means to recover.
Yet some may ask: Isn’t it too intrusive for a single foundation to suggest recipient cities must appoint an official with a previously unknown title and duties – “chief resilience officer”?
One reply: The idea comes from a proven friend of humanity. The Rockefeller Foundation has already invested deeply across the world, including in the Green Revolution of the mid-20th century, which introduced crops and production methods credited with saving more than a billion people from starvation.