Speaker Series 2023 #1 Resilience for Communities (R4C): Measuring Vulnerability and Building Equitable Resilience

Jan 2023

About the Session

The Speakers

About this session

Extreme weather events are among the most dangerous shocks that plague cities and are becoming increasingly common as a result of climate change, impacting people’s livelihood and well-being, especially the most vulnerable. In 2022 alone, the catastrophic extreme weather and climate disasters that impacted the United States are estimated to have cost at least $1 billion each, according to a new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

Laurian Farrell, Regional Director for North America of R-Cities, provided an introduction to the Resilience for Communities Program (R4C), jointly run by R-Cities, the  Z Zurich Foundation, and Zurich North America. The program builds off of the Zurich Flood Alliance’s work strengthening flood resilience with rural communities and is adapting the learnings from previous implementation to the urban context in network cities.  Network CROs have expressed the need for a way to quantitatively measure resilience in order to effectively prioritize projects as well as demonstrate impact. R4C’s approach is designed to enable these objectives while focusing on urban communities that bear the brunt of climate impacts due to systemic inequity. 

David Nash, Senior Manager for Climate Change and Partnerships presented on the genesis of the Zurich Flood Alliance and the Flood Resilience Measurement for Communities (FRMC tool), which began as an effort to answer the question of how to measure community resilience before disaster strikes. The Z Zurich Foundation then applied their expertise in risk management as well that of research partners and to the question, and developed the Multi-Hazards Framework. The Multi-Hazard framework differentiates between 5 different sources of resilience which serve as proxies of community resilience: human capital, social capital, natural capital, physical capital and financial capital. This framework can be used to assess overall community resilience, but can also be applied to gauge resilience to specific hazards. The measurement itself is done through the FRMC, which utilizes a participatory approach, instigating conversations on resilience with the community and deepening local understanding of the sources of resilience. 

Jordana Vasquez, Senior Manager, R-Cities commented on the experience of implementing the adapted version of the FRMC tool (the Climate Resilience for Communities, or CRMC) in Boston and Houston where R-Cities has been working together with community ambassadors, volunteers and city governments. It is critical to ensure that community voices are front and center from the beginning of the resilience evaluation process, and in crafting solutions down the line. In selecting communities for intervention, R-Cities work with city governments to develop community selection criterion including the presence of local champions, vulnerability to hazards and genuine interest in work to enhance resilience. In the R4C program, community members are recognized as subject matter experts and their insight has been invaluable in identifying critical resilience gaps. It is also a crucial perspective for local government; for example in Houston, where the city has a preliminary list of projects but limited resources, the CRMC tool enables city officials to prioritize and have a defensible rationale on why the city is focusing on certain interventions. 

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