Resilience for Communities (R4C)

Our multi-city program that supports cities with their building urban resilience plans.

Z Zurich Foundation (Foundation), Zurich North America (ZNA) and Resilient Cities Network (R-Cities) are working together to increase city resilience and reduce risks to life and property due to shocks and stresses, particularly around the intersection of climate risk and social inequity.  R4C will operate in selected neighborhoods of US cities, with a focus on vulnerable populations. The program will result in implementable solutions that tackle social injustice and build resilience.

The Challenge

Extreme weather events are becoming increasingly frequent and dangerous around the world. In 2021 alone, 432 disastrous events linked to climate hazards occurred worldwide, a dramatic increase from the previous 2001-2020 average of 357 events. These events were linked to mass displacement, high death tolls and extensive economic consequences for the cities and countries affected. In the United States, the economic toll of these events was $145 billion, and the 20 “billion-dollar” disasters were linked to 688 indirect or direct deaths.

These events place a large burden on cities, which are home to some of the communities most impacted by climate hazards like flash flooding and extreme heat. In urban areas, we have repeatedly witnessed marginalized communities bearing the brunt of climate hazards, as racial and social inequities greatly reduce these communities’ ability to react and recover from these events. Too often, these same inequities impeded marginalized communities from being heard in the event’s aftermath, creating a vicious cycle that prevents local governments from increasing resilience in these areas.

Program Objective

We know that the challenges of our changing climate can no longer be tackled in silos. This program will examine the effects of cascading shocks and stresses (flood and heat) and provide solutions that incorporate holistic resilience from the very beginning stages of analysis through to implementation. This project puts equity at the center of the work and ensures community voices are a central part of the solutions.

Climate change is a complex problem and solutions will be developed through a series of steps, starting with an analysis of the challenges and existing tools and processes.

Program Approach

The Resilience for Communities program (R4C) will increase climate resilience in vulnerable urban communities through:

  • Investing in and deepening the resilience capacity of cities by providing diagnostic support through use of the CRMC tool
  • By conducting intentional and authentic community engagement
  • Providing expert technical assistance through the collaborative efforts of  Z Zurich Foundation, Zurich North America and the Resilience Cities Network
  • Scale and support knowledge transfer to additional cities across the global network and Zurich/Foundation markets
  • Developing viable resilience projects with potential funding through the Resilient Community Impact Funds (“RCIFunds”)
  • Building partnerships across R-Cities and Zurich’s extensive stakeholder networks who are committed to supporting and funding resilience projects; and by growing the RCIFunds

The Resilient Community Impact Funds (RCIFunds):

Cities cannot do this alone, we are creating new partnerships and new ways of working together to drive resources and funding directly to where cities can make the most impact on the resilience of individuals, businesses and the cities themselves. An initial investment by Z Zurich Foundation into the RCIFunds will not only create direct impact in communities, but will also catalyze broader support from partners to help scale successful projects to more cities.

Participating Cities

Action Cities

Boston

Houston

Champion Cities

Chicago

Charleston

New Orleans

The program focuses on two “Action Cities,” Houston and Boston, where it is working with community leaders to provide diagnostic support on analysis of the challenges, tools to measure community resilience, project resources, and, ultimately, funds to implement solutions that will incorporate a holistic approach to resilience and social equity.

Three “Champion Cities,” (New Orleans, Charleston, and Chicago) will work alongside the “Action Cities,” sharing experiences and best practices and helping to develop solutions that can be implemented in other cities facing similar climate-related challenges. They will benefit from local community site visits and tool testing and contribute with the other cities to the learning and implementation. The cities will represent a broad range of city size, demographics, geographies, climate and perils (shocks and stresses). We anticipate that the action and learning cities will be home to a population of more than 20 million people and have the common element of being a coastal/waterfront city with a deep connection to the water that defines them.

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