On 26 and 27 May, the Chief Resilience Officers of Europe and the Middle East (EME) held their first-ever virtual regional convening. 28 CROs and teams from 17 different cities joined the two-part event remotely, initially intended to be hosted in Malmo in conjunction with the European Urban Resilience Forum. The agenda was co-developed with the CROs, responding directly to the themes that keep their busy minds occupied: a resilient recovery that balances their cities’ environmental, social, and economic needs.
During the first session of Day 1, the cohort heard from three CROs who shared what their city went through during the pandemic, what actions they have taken, the role of the resilience office, and how their resilience work has played a role in the response and recovery efforts. Dr. Kathy Oldham, CRO in Greater Manchester, noted that the work the city region and its leaders have done on resilience ensured that resilience was recognized as an essential part of the response. Ahmed Abu-Laban, City Director from Ramallah, talked the group through how the city kept its cultural activities going, with a strong focus on social inclusion. Lastly, Noemie Fompeyrine, Deputy CRO in Paris, discussed how the team is using resilience strategy tools to reassess strengths and weaknesses that the pandemic has thrown a spotlight on.
Duncan Shaw from the University of Manchester continued to share current thinking on recovery planning how it is different from recovering from other crises. Braulio E. Morera then outlined which resilience tools Resilient Cities Network is modifying, available to cities for recovery planning. Lastly, as stimulus packages were on everyone’s mind, Steve Hammer from the World Bank left the group with advice on how to best use investment for a green resilient recovery, and what CRO’s can do in this time to raise their collective voices as agents of urban change.
On Day 2, CRO’s participated in the Urban Resilience Forum, presenting in the opening plenary, as well as in sessions on Cities for a Resilient Recovery (organized by RCN and Nordic Urban Resilience Institute), and Financing the Green Transition.
At the end of the convening, CROs reflected on the importance of this trusted, shared space for learning, exchange, and collective action. The practitioners’ network’s strong foundation has been acutely apparent in times of crisis, and its commitment to plan for thriving, future-proof, resilient cities has only grown stronger.