Speaker Series #6 – From Theory to Practice: Partnerships to Fund Resilience Implementation

Apr 2022

About the Session

The Speakers

Cities on the Frontline Speaker Series

#6 – From Theory to Practice: Partnerships to Fund Resilience Implementation

With more than half of the world’s population living in urban areas, a number that is expected to reach 70 percent by 2050, urgent action is required to ensure our cities can withstand the effects of multiple shocks and stresses. Business-as-usual models of siloed and reactive planning do not provide cities with the means to thrive in the face of the acute shocks and chronic stresses of the 21st century. The sixth Cities on the Frontline session of 2022, shared insights on the Resilient Community Impact Fund or RCIFund, a catalytic funding tool recently announcing a “call for co funding” to bring together public and private partners at the global and local level. During this session, our speakers shared information about the design and methodology of the Fund, its planned impact and how to get involved.  

Stewart Sarkozy-Banoczy, Global Director of Policy and Investments at the Resilient Cities Network and project director for the RCIFund, started off the session with an overview of the RCIFund, its structure, components and resilience methodology. The RCIFund, Stewart described, is a catalytic grant-based fund designed to support innovative, scalable projects in member cities, while supporting project preparation to advance the pipeline of projects with a robust Resilience Value. In the coming months and years, the RCIFund and its donor partners will come together to support and strengthen member cities’ work on the ground based on demand. The RCIFund, Stewart continued, started with two generous seed funders, the Z Zurich Foundation and Bank of America who committed $500,000 and $350,000 US dollars respectively eventually aiming at tying these funds to sub funds that are unique and aligned to specific thematic, programmatic, and geographic priorities around the world. To explain further, Stewart, talked about the structure of the fund, defining two major pillars around which the projects will revolve including climate resilience and circularity with equity, economic opportunity, and recovery as cross cutting themes. He also emphasized the importance of being able to measure the Resilience Value and to assure that it is built into all participating projects. For this purpose, the RCIFund works tied to the Resilient Funding and Financing Principles that aims at ensuring a resilience-based process in all endeavors, being able to reach a reliable performance and intended outcomes in both routine and extraordinary circumstances and creating positive co-benefits and minimizing short- and long-term negative impacts. As a closing remark Stewart encouraged member cities and potential donors to join this impactful fund to continue to work towards securing a resilient future in the cities we live in.

Following Stewarts introductory presentation, Andrea Davis, AVP, Regional Engagement Manager – North America and Bermuda at Z Zurich Foundation, took the floor to share the donor perspective on the Fund as a representative of Z Zurich Foundation. First and foremost, Andrea, shared that Z Zurich foundation is proud to be the first donor to the RCIFund, a Fund that aligns very well to Z Zurich foundation´s mission. To explain this further Andrea talked about the role of the Foundation as the primary vehicle through which Zurich delivers on its community investment strategy around the globe with climate change being one of the main pillars for action. However, as Z Zurich was developing work, they noticed that they could expand their reach further within climate resilience. The first program focused on this expansion was the North America Climate Resilience Program, a program currently taking place in Boston and Houston, with a component of climate resilience but also social equity. This, Andrea remarks is one of the examples of how the fund is being deployed within cities. Andrea continued her intervention by discussing why Zurich chose to invest in this specific fund, mentioning that the fund has a unique model that provides opportunities to work collaboratively potentially scaling up the benefits. From the donor´s perspective Z Zurich Foundation saw important benefits including donor flexibility with the different lenses and specifically aimed sub funds, which is crucial to honor the intent of the donor as well as the fund´s focus on long term benefits but also immediate benefits to vulnerable communities, showing the short-term impact in long term resilience with a clear and measurable return on investment. Andrea concluded her intervention by emphasizing that, for these and many other reasons, this is a win win opportunity for donors as well as for cities and encouraging attendees to learn more about the fund and to get engaged.

Jane Gilbert Chief Heat Officer at Miami-Dade County, Former Chief Resilience Officer and Member of RCIFund Advisory Board, complemented Andrea´s intervention by discussing the Fund from a city perspective and its potential to catalyze resilient projects in Miami. To start off Jane congratulated and thanked Z Zurich Foundation for taking the lead as the catalytic funder for RCIFund, noting that from her experience in corporate funding, this is a very strategic choice that has the potential to be very high impact and will leverage sub funding as the need from cities is and will continue to be high. Also reflecting on her experience as a Former Chief resilience officer and now Heat Resilience Officer, Jane shared that within the work that the city is doing, access to a catalytic funder would have enabled them to push internally for the involvement of more stakeholders to create a truly resilient design that is more human centered and collaborative. She emphasized that there are other funds available however there is still a need for an organizational skill and perspective that this funding could really help drive for instance in projects involving energy efficient retrofits or healthy streets initiatives. In general, there are four main opportunities that Jane sees for cities that get involved with the RCIFund: influencing the design of projects at an early stage ensuring a resilient process; piloting or executing a proof of concept of new approaches or technologies that would otherwise be difficult for a county to procure on its own; attracting local funding by bringing credibility to a project; and building internal capacity by creating opportunities for exchange between participating cities to drive continued learning among practitioners that she emphasized, is so critical in our cities here today. To finish off, Jane joined our other two speakers reiterating the potential that she sees on the RCIFund and advocating for other partners to join the initiative to exponentially grow the capacity of this very ambitious and impact driven fund.

How to get involved:


RCIFund Landing Page
RCIFund Overview Sheet


Stewart Sarkozy-Banoczy
Global Director, Policy and Investments
Resilient Cities Network
+1 605-430-9398

Stewart Sarkozy-Banoczy,
Global Director, Policy and Investments at the Resilient Cities Network and project director for the RCIFund

What we are doing is we’re moving a project to scale or moving an innovative project to completion so that we can take it to other cities or take it to other places within that city, the idea being that we’re using the Fund to really sort of stir and grow the work that’s going on the ground based on the demand that we continue to hear.

Stewart Sarkozy-Banoczy‘s Presentation

Andrea Davis
AVP, Regional Engagement Manager – North America and Bermuda at Z Zurich Foundation

We hope that our initial investment really inspires others to contribute as well

Jane Gilbert
Chief Heat Officer at Miami-Dade County, Former Chief Resilience Officer and Member of RCIFund Advisory Board

“There are funding dollars out there, but it needs that organizational skill that some of this funding would really help drive”

Watch full session here:

Black climate change thematic icon with blue circular background. Black built environment thematic icon with blue circular background. Black economy and finance thematic icon with blue circular background. Black equity thematic icon with blue circular background.

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