Giving Compass' Take:

• Here are three critical learnings for city officials who want to build back their cities through urban resilience planning: Remove siloes, address the frequent shocks, and resilience projects must have a measurable impact that reflects the effects of de-siloing.

• How can donors get involved in urban resilience planning? How can funders collaborate with city leaders to address needs?

• Learn about the effects of COVID-19 on cities' public transportation. 

A recent New York Times article chronicled how Elmhurst Hospital in Queens was besieged by Covid-19 patients, while nearby hospitals had capacity. The article referenced an earlier tragedy on September 11, 2001, when the Police, Fire, and Emergency Response departments communicated on different radio frequencies leading to hundreds of firefighters trapped in the towers while their police counterparts evacuated safety.

Much changed between 2001 and 2020, but one important fact remains: cities, with their growing populations, are exposed to systemic shocks.  The chronic stressors of racism and income inequality only make segments of urban populations even more vulnerable.

These tragic examples highlight why busting siloes through resilience building is so critical for cities on the frontlines of responding to shocks, be they infectious disease, terrorism, or civil unrest. Today’s Covid-19 crisis only underscores the need for cities to build resilience into their response and recovery.

The Urban Institute (Urban) has been monitoring The Rockefeller Foundation’s urban resilience work for many years and has focused its assessment on the transformation of cities over the long-term, particularly how cities institutionalize resilience-building in their planning and operations. Recent findings identified three key learnings for city officials that are worth noting in this time of turmoil: 1) Removing siloes is critical for successful disaster response, 2) cities are experiencing more frequent shocks, and 3) resilience projects must have measurable impact that reflects the effects of de-siloing.

  1. Removing Siloes Restructuring siloes and internalizing comprehensive planning are hallmarks of urban resilience building.
  2. More City Shocks These findings hold particular weight as cities experience more frequent shocks – whether as hot zones of disease or flashpoints for social unrest.
  3.  Impact Oriented from the Start Lastly, the data collected by Urban indicates that the field of urban resilience continues to evolve. There is a new emphasis on poverty and justice as underlying stressors, with both new and existing programs pivoting to more directly address these issues.

Read the full article about building back through urban resilience by Kirsten Eiler, Veronica Olazabal and Carlos Martín at The Rockefeller Foundation.