Frequently asked questions

Urban resilience

What is urban resilience?

Urban resilience is the capacity of a city’s systems, businesses, institutions, communities, and individuals to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of acute shocks and chronic stresses they experience.

Shocks are typically single-event disasters such as fires, earthquakes, and floods. Stresses are factors that pressure a city on a daily or reoccurring basis, such as chronic food or water shortage, an overtaxed transportation system, endemic violence, or high unemployment.

Urban resilience is about making a city better, in both good times and bad, for the benefit of all its citizens, particularly the poor and vulnerable.

How is resilience different from sustainability and disaster risk reduction?

Resilience incorporates concepts of sustainability and disaster risk reduction (DRR), and transcends them with a holistic and proactive approach.

While sustainability works towards putting the world into long-term balance amid the depletion of natural resources, resilience looks for ways to make systems endure and thrive even in an imbalanced world. While DRR seeks to minimize the damage caused by natural hazards, resilience has a broader scope: developing a proactive and integrated plan to address both shocks and stresses, such as natural disasters and adverse socio-economic trends.

In essence, resilience involves not only coping and adaptive strategies, but also transformative actions to make cities better, in good times and bad, in the short term and in the long term.

What is a resilience dividend?

The resilience dividend is the return on resilience investments, whether a financial return or a more qualitative return, such as reduced inequality or increased social cohesion. The resilience dividend captures the idea that building resilience realizes benefits both in times of crisis and in times of calm.

What is the City Resilience Framework?

The City Resilience Framework (CRF) is a unique framework developed by Arup and supported by The Rockefeller Foundation, based on extensive research in cities. The CRF underpins the strategy development process as a method for understanding the complexity of urban systems and the drivers that contribute to a city’s resilience.

100 Resilient Cities (100RC)

What was the purpose of the 100 Resilient Cities initiative?

After nearly six years’ operation, 100RC met its goal of incubating urban resilience in participating cities. The program enabled the appointment of a Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) and the establishment of a Resilience Office in each member city, aiding the development of Resilience Strategies to identify critical risks and potential projects, and creating a platform of partners to achieve this.

What is the relationship between 100RC and the new Resilient Cities Network?

The Resilient Cities Network (R-Cities) emerges from the successful 100RC initiative with an expanded partner base. With support from The Rockefeller Foundation, the Economic Development Board of Singapore, and other funding partners, the network continues to support cities and their CROs in future-proofing their communities and critical infrastructure. R-Cities has a unique reach, strength, and legacy to understand and support the challenges of an ever-growing urban society.

Does The Rockefeller Foundation continue to support the operation of the Resilient Cities Network?

Yes, The Rockefeller Foundation continues to support the Resilient Cities Network as a core funding partner.

About the Resilient Cities Network

What is the Resilient Cities Network?

The Resilient Cities Network (R-Cities) is the world’s leading urban resilience network, aiming to shape a safe and equitable world. We are a city-led non-profit organization driving resilience action to protect vulnerable communities from climate change and other physical, social, and economic adversities and challenges.

What does the Resilient Cities Network do?

R-Cities supports cities in an ambitious resilience agenda through action-oriented initiatives driven and enabled by the knowledge of member cities and their CROs. Our three thematic priorities are:

  • COVID-19 Resilient Recovery: Equity, local economy
  • Climate Resilience: Water resilience, community resilience
  • Circular Economy: Waste management, food systems

What does the Resilient Cities Network deliver?

R-Cities inspires cities globally to commit to resilience-building. This work includes understanding and addressing gaps and vulnerabilities to facilitate urban resilience outcomes, aligning efforts on priority themes, creating partnerships, supporting projects through shared practice, driving investment in resilience-building through partnerships, and funding early-stage initiatives through our Resilient Community Impact Fund (RCIF).

What does the Resilient Cities Network hope to achieve?

Our vision is a global urban resilience coalition: an empowered network of cities combining their efforts to deliver urban resilience through knowledge sharing, collaboration, and collective action. Through this network, we hope to improve the lives of over 220 million city dwellers.

We build partnerships to design, invest in, and scale urban resilience solutions worldwide, enabling urban communities to thrive in the face of acute shocks and chronic stresses.

What are the Resilient Cities Network’s guiding principles?

The Resilient Cities Network is:

  • City-led: Mayors, city leaders, and CROs participate in the governance of the network.
  • Impact-focused: RCN’s work prioritizes resilient projects that aim to improve the lives of the poor and vulnerable.
  • Regionally driven: Resilience-building activities are designed with flexibility to respond to member cities’ needs.
  • A partnership-based network: Members’ resilience activities aim to become self-sustainable in the near future.

We believe in the power of cities working together for urban resilience. Resilience has the capacity to build safe, equitable, prosperous, and vibrant cities, and to create life-changing impact on urban communities. Cities working together can drive resilience, unlock opportunities, and accelerate change.

Organization

How is the Global Resilient Cities Network organized and governed?

R-Cities is a global organization with offices in New York, Washington DC, London, Singapore, and Mexico City. We are governed by a Global Steering Committee comprising member cities’ CROs and a Board of Directors. Our headquarters is based out of Singapore.

Member cities

How many cities are currently members of the Resilient Cities Network?

Currently, R-Cities is a community of 97 member cities of the former 100RC initiative, 83 of which have institutionalized CROs.

R-Cities expects to welcome up to ten new members in 2020. The new phase of the network has been co-designed in partnership with the global community of CROs and supported by the leadership of their cities.

R-Cities is renewing membership agreements with its cities to ensure strong commitment on both sides to continue building urban resilience on the ground.

Funding

What is the main objective of having strategic partnerships supporting the Resilient Cities Network?

With each new strategic partnership, R-Cities aims to extend its delivery capacity while securing its assets, capabilities, expertise, and knowledge. Through its partnerships R-Cities strengthens the execution of impact-focused projects that support resilience actions in vulnerable cities and communities of all sizes and in different regions.

Building resilience is the work of a generation. To secure R-Cities’s ability to support cities along this journey, strategic partners help the network maintain its services to cities facing uncertain futures.

Chief Resilience Officers (CROs)

What is the role of the Chief Resilience Officer?

One of R-Cities’s key innovations, originally part of the 100RC initiative, is the creation of a new type of urban resilience champion. The Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) is a top-level advisor who reports to the city leadership responsible for leading, coordinating, and developing their city’s resilience strategy and policy.

Each city possesses a unique organizational structure, and therefore the role of a CRO has different manifestations in terms of title, level of seniority, and mandate.

These diverse and dynamic leaders are the vanguard of resilience practice, and are driving change in some of the world’s most complex and fast-changing cities.

Who appoints the CRO?

The CRO is formally appointed by the city’s mayor or equivalent authority.

Programs

What is the main purpose of the Resilient Cities Network’s programs?

Our programs build capacity and scale resilience and investments in vulnerable communities and the critical systems that serve them. Programs are thematic action-oriented initiatives that are implemented to build capacity through peer-to-peer learning and the application of resilience tools and practices, and to support the design and implementation of urban resilience projects.

What programs does the Resilient Cities Network implement?

R-Cities works on programs with member cities and partners around the world, including The Rockefeller Foundation, Temasek Foundation International, Citi Foundation, Visa International Service Association, Arup, the World Resource Institute (WRI), Dalberg, the University of Manchester, The Circulate Initiative, Ocean Conservancy, and The Resilience Shift.

Some examples of our programs are Cities on the Frontline (resilient recovery), Urban Ocean (circular economy and waste management) and Resilient Cities Shaping a Digital World (digital inclusion).

How are the Resilient Cities Network’s programs organized?

We are currently building our programmatic support according to our three thematic priorities: COVID-19 resilient recovery, Climate Resilience, and Circular Economy.