Catalyzing City Resilience Solutions

Catalyzing City Resilience Solutions


Catalyzing City Resilience Solutions

The Catalyzing City Resilience Solutions program aims to help cities’ local economy recover from the Covid-19 pandemic by identifying a critical SMEs sector and empowering and strengthening it by continuing to create solutions that will allow cities to build urban resilience.

The Challenge

SMEs on batik industry in City of Semarang (Credit: City Government of Semarang)

Cities face an urban economic crisis resulting from the need to curb the local transmission of the Covid-19 virus through lockdowns and other safety measures. This contributes to pressure on jobs and local economies.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which are essential drivers of economic and social well-being in cities, are disproportionately affected and have become more vulnerable due to the pandemic. In 2020, International Trade Centre surveyed SMEs in 132 countries and found that two-thirds  of SMEs reported that the crisis strongly affected their business operations and one-fifth indicated the risk of shutting down permanently within three months.

With the overlapping climate crisis, strengthening SMEs in cities beyond surviving the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic is critical for the local economy. A survey of R-Cities Chief Resilience Officers in 2020 confirmed that city leadership is focusing on social equity and local economy enhancement as their top priorities when thinking beyond the pandemic. Hence, supporting SMEs for cities’ resilient recovery must also address the opportunity to emerge more inclusively and sustainably.

Program Objective

R-Cities is partnering with Citi Foundation to support a cohort of up to 8 cities in Asia Pacific through the “Catalyzing City Resilience Solutions” program. It aims to help cities’ local economy recover from the negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic by empowering and strengthening the identified critical SMEs sectors to continue creating solutions that will allow cities to build urban resilience.

Program Approach

The Catalyzing City Resilience Solutions program has four areas of action:

  1. Support the city to assess a critical SMEs sector and its impact on the local economy due to the pandemic, interconnected resilience challenges, and the urban system
  2. Facilitate and organize an accelerated co-creation process between cities and the selected SMEs sector to source, design and test solutions that strengthen SMEs business continuity, address critical resilience challenges, and contribute co-benefits to the city
  3. Facilitate a transformative pilot to demonstrate the potential of the selected solution
  4. Build a peer network among cities that works on the intersection of strengthening the SME sector and innovating on resilient solutions

R-Cities wants to ensure that this program is grounded in the realities that cities and its SMEs sector are facing. While this is an accelerator like program to support SMEs, we have the following principles in implementing this program:

  1. Committed to support critical and vulnerable SMEs sector
  2. Anchored into resilience challenge
  3. Embedded collaborative spirit where partnership across stakeholders is critical
  4. Integrate resilience co-benefits outcome for the City


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Image of the City of Bangkok from Getty Images, by Thatree Thitivongvaroon
Image of Semarang Batik from Getty Images

Black program thematic icon with blue circular background. Black resilience thematic icon with blue circular background.
Catalyzing City Resilience Solutions