September 15, 2022
Summer hailstorms in Mexico City, weeks-long heat waves in India, hurricane-force winds off the Great Lakes—extreme weather events are becoming commonplace, testing the resilience of local and regional governments across the world. But urban resilience extends beyond weathering climate shocks. It also entails maintaining and improving infrastructure, ecology, economy, and community at the city level.For six years, from 2013 to 2019, the 100 Resilient Cities program sought to boost the capacity of local governments across all facets of urban resilience. Although the program ended earlier than anticipated, its unprecedented breadth of participating cities and scope of intervention provided potential lessons for cities across the world as they prepare for and face an increasingly uncertain future.KEY TAKEAWAYSThe 100 Resilient Cities program included three cohorts of cities from across the globe, each of which experienced three interventions to improve city governance operational and planning capacity for resilience: the creation and selection of a Chief Resilience Officer, the development and publication of a resilience strategy, and the implementation of that strategy, with technical support provided by the program. The Urban Institute monitored and evaluated the core features of the 100 Resilient Cities program for almost seven years, with this final report focusing on the outcomes for city planning and operations attributable to interventions across a 21-city sample. From this program, we believe the following lessons learned can help cities improve their resilience moving forward.Cities must focus on chronic social vulnerability in addition to unexpected shocks. Although cities must be prepared for extreme weather events and civil unrest, both of which can cause extreme devastation, they must also address ongoing issues, such as failing infrastructure and health care accessibility.Chief Resilience Officers and robust networks can facilitate city-to-city learning. As with any program, collaboration and sharing of knowledge can benefit all parties involved. The network of Chief Resilience Officers could advocate for successful resilience strategies from other cities, which could lead to more collaboration in local governments and across regions.Resilient governance requires more voices to be involved in planning and development. Foregrounding inclusion and equity is crucial for building resilience, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic has drawn attention to many underlying systemic inequities in countries across the world.Resilience building takes a long time. Despite the necessary urgency of building resilience, solutions take a long time to implement and need consistent funding and support to fulfill their potential. When the 100 Resilient Cities program ended early, many cities had developed plans and strategies but lost the support that would have helped them enact those solutions. Ongoing political and funder support is critical for long-term resilience.