City resilience challenges that will resonate across the world

Chief Resilience Officers and senior government officials attending Designing City Resilience in London on 16 and 17 June 2015 will work with an international audience of experts to change the way cities are planned, designed and built, making them more resilient.

Many cities face similar physical, economic and social challenges, regardless of where they are located. By sharing these challenges with professionals from design and construction; development and infrastructure; city leadership and governance; insurance and finance; and technology and communications, the path to resilience should become far easier.

Chennai, Glasgow, Barcelona, Melbourne, Bristol, Manchester, Austin (Texas), New York City, Rome and Rio de Janeiro will present their challenges, the barriers to overcome them and the plans they have in place to build resilience, as well as inputting to the City Resilience Challenge, the workshop running over both days of the summit.

The workshop will give cities and participants the unique the opportunity to work through these issues, to develop a set of principles that can be applied globally.

Sarah Toy, Bristol’s Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) will describe how the city is investing significantly in renewing its infrastructure to meet the needs of its growing population.

Manuel Valdes Lopez, Manager of Infrastructures and Urban Coordination, will discuss Barcelona’s plans to address the challenges of high unemployment and a lack of social cohesion. Glasgow faces similar issues and the city’s CRO, Alastair Brown, will outline how the city is creating future opportunities for the city to deal with them.

Physical resilience is a challenge faced by both established and growing cities and will be a particular focus of the summit. Melbourne and Chennai will explain how they are working to reduce the risk of damage from severe flood events and other climate change impacts.

Participating cities are working toward having, or already have, a resilience plan in place. New York City, for example, published One New York: The plan for a strong and just city in April. The city will outline how the plan aims to promote a better quality of life of its citizens through a growing economy and by reducing social inequality, while mitigating and preparing for the risks presented climate change.

Commenting on the importance of the summit, George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, said: “No one profession can solve the challenges of city resilience. Cross-thinking across service, professional and geographic boundaries is vital and the summit will take a big step towards helping break down these barriers.”

Designing City Resilience will be held on 16 and 17 June 2015, 66 Portland Place, London. For more information and to book a place at the event, visit Visit the Facebook page and follow the summit on Twitter: @rescities; connect via LinkedIn; or see the Youtube channel.

Participating cities include:

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona has a history of energy and transport-related infrastructure failure, as well significant pollution. More recently, Spain’s financial problems have meant the city has experienced high levels of unemployment which have sparked a break-down in traditional family structures, affecting social cohesion. Manuel Valdes Lopez, Manager of Infrastructures and Urban Coordination, will discuss the city’s plans to address these challenges.

Bristol, UK

Bristol is experiencing rapid growth and is investing significantly in renewing its infrastructure to meet the needs of its expanding population. Plans for more decentralised governance structures are being put in place, with the aim of empowering citizens to minimise risk and becoming increasingly resource efficient in the long-term. Sarah Toy, Bristol’s Chief Resilience Officer (CRO), will share what the city is investing in, how it is doing it and the value that it aims to unlock. She will be joined by Bristol’s Mayor, George Ferguson, who will outline the city’s plans for a more decentralised governance structure, with the aim of empowering citizens.

Chennai, India

South India’s coastal city of Chennai is currently the fourth most populous metropolitan area in the world. The city suffered damage from a Tsunami in 2004, is prone to flooding and lacks the infrastructure to meet the needs of its growing population. Chennai will present its plans to minimise future risk and how the city is using public private partnerships (PPPs) to achieve these aims.

Glasgow, UK

Glasgow has come a long way in building resilience since its days of heavy industry but continues to grapple with high levels of unemployment and a severe lack of social cohesion. The city’s CRO Alastair Brown will talk about the plans being put in place to tackle these challenges and create future opportunities.

Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne is affected by severe weather events and its future is likely to be impacted significantly by climate change. Complex governance structures and fragmented infrastructure management present barriers to building resilience. Toby Kent, Melbourne’s CRO, will discuss how the city is adapting and adopting a more coordinated approach to city management and resilience.

New York City, USA

New York City (NYC) constantly battles resilience on two fronts: fighting the stresses that large successful cities face daily and ensuring it is prepared for shocks that, as Hurricane Sandy proved in 2012, are all too prevalent.

NYC published its plan for implementing sustainability and resilience initiatives in April 2015. One New York: The plan for a strong and just city, includes plans to have the cleanest air in 50 years; to plant 950,000 trees and install 6 million square feet of reflective rooftops; to upgrade building codes to prepare for floods, wind and extreme weather; and to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050, compared with 2005.

The aim is to ensure policies are in place to promote a better quality of life for New York’s citizens, support economic success and tackle social inequality, while also mitigating the risks of climate change.

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