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Welcome to the resilient city!

Posted on 20 May 2015.

The Rockefeller Foundation’s "100 Resilient Cities" network is taking up the challenge of creating flexible and progressive cities that adapt and are more resilient to adverse events.

Resilient cities present a new, innovative urban dynamic that makes them more resilient to physical disasters and social and economic changes.

Globalization, rapid urbanization and climate change mean a 21st century city has to think about the future. Developed in the 2000s, the "resilient city" concept is defined as the ability of a city to adapt and so recover from climatic and environmental disturbances, and economic or social tensions. A city is viewed as a comprehensive governance ecosystem with different interconnected and interdependent systems: infrastructure, facilities, finance, social development, eco-management of resources. The idea is to be able to withstand crises, manage them, and most importantly rebound with a dynamic urban model that does not merely react. Of course following a natural disaster - flooding, for example – operational functions have to be reinstated as quickly as possible. But urban resilience also involves working upstream to mitigate the disruption caused by population explosion, geo-climatic changes or pollution. In fact, a resilient city treads one possible pathway to a sustainable city.

The Rockefeller Foundation’s objective - "100 Resilient Cities"

In 2013, the Rockefeller Foundation launched the 100 Resilient Cities Network. 67 applications were selected, including Paris, which has been part of the network since 2014 - alongside Barcelona, Quito, Dakar, Lisbon, Rome, Melbourne, London, Durban and Kigali to name just a few. The Foundation’s objective is to reach 100 cities by 2016. Specifically, the program undertakes to provide not only funding to appoint a Chief Resilience Officer, but also expertise, membership of the 100 Resilient Cities Network through which cities can learn from and help each other, and technical support.

Veolia, technology partner for resilient cities

It was natural step for Veolia to become a partner in the network. Working closely with cities, their administrative and technical services and their elected representatives, Veolia is adding its efforts to building urban resilience in its areas of expertise: water and waste management, and energy. An experiment managing a network by means of urban sensors helped reduce flooding events in Copenhagen from 100 to 10 in one year! In New York, as an active member of the "100 Resilient Cities", Veolia has been involved in building a combined heat and power plant that supplies its heat to a university. The principle of decentralized energy production, which makes it autonomous and independent of the electrical network, proved very useful during Hurricane Sandy. In this case resilience consisted of ensuring the continuity of services during a crisis. By combining technology and ecology, the resilient city continues on its way to a new form of sustainability that takes the well-being of its inhabitants into account.