Canadian Underwriter

Swiss Re among partners committed to building resilience of cities worldwide

September 25, 2013   by Canadian Underwriter

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Swiss Re is among the organizations to accept the challenge and commit to supporting a network of member cities to build resilience to natural disasters and other risks.

Swiss Re among partners committed to building resilience of cities worldwide

The announcement of a global commitment to action to the 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge was made Tuesday by former U.S. president Bill Clinton during the opening plenary of the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual meeting in New York. Established in 2005, CGI convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

The commitment to action – led by The Rockefeller Foundation and shared by Swiss Re, the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Architecture for Humanity and Palantir Technologies – seeks to advance a new vision for urban resilience globally, notes a press release issued by The Rockefeller Foundation.

Resilience will help strengthen the ability of cities to prepare for and bounce back more quickly from the inevitable shocks and stresses following extreme weather resulting from climate change, seismic events or terrorism, the statement says.

Noting that people living in cities will account for an estimated 75% of the world’s population by 2050, The Rockefeller Foundation sees building urban resilience as an imperative of the 21st Century. “Through planning, foresight and better investment, cities can mitigate these impacts,” the statement adds.

The commitment will support at least 100 cities in the next three years to appoint chief resilience officers (CRO), develop resilience strategies, and provide access to tools, technical support and resources for implementation, including access to innovative finance for infrastructure development, the statement notes. A CRO network will also be created to share information and best practices.

Further, the commitment to action will be realized through the new organization, 100 Resilient Cities, pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation. The organization will co-ordinate both the Resilient Cities Network and the platform of services offered to network members. The first commitments have been made by Swiss Re, AIA, Architecture for Humanity and Palantir.

With The Rockefeller Foundation’s US$100-million pledge to build urban resilience, the network is expected to grow to include at least 100 cities around the world over time. 100 Resilient Cities will select the first round of cities to join the network following the challenge process.

As more cities join or express interest through future rounds of applications, the potential to change the future of city planning globally will become increasingly powerful and real, the statement notes.

Cities around the world have been invited to participate and, to date, more than 500 have registered. Selected cities will be announced on December 3, 2013.

“This challenge is an exceptional vehicle to work with these cities to identify their risks and deliver insurance solutions, reducing the financial exposure of their citizens while making their communities more resilient,” Martyn Parker, chairman of global partnerships, representing Swiss Re at CGI, notes in a statement from Swiss Re Group, a leading wholesale provider of reinsurance, insurance and other insurance-based forms of risk transfer.

As one of the commitment partners, Swiss Re reports it will contribute practical risk management insight, offer expertise in helping to define the CRO role, support the development of the CRO network, and provide access to risk assessment and risk financing tools, including state-of-the-art risk assessment software that will be offered to network cities free of charge.

“It is our deep conviction that we should be preparing for disasters before they happen, rather than responding after the fact. This not only saves lives, reduces human suffering and protects property, it also helps to speed up recovery and lessen the impact on public and private budgets, which is the essence of resilience,” Parker emphasizes.

The AIA and Architecture for Humanity are committed to creating a series of regional resilient design studios. “By building upon our experience helping recover in the wake of major disasters, these studios will train and engage architects in their communities before disasters strike,” says AIA CEO Robert Ivy.

“Building resilience cannot be done by a single actor or sector, no matter how innovative or passionate they may be,” adds Dr. Judith Rodin, president of The Rockefeller Foundation. “Rather, building resilience requires a shared vision and investment among a range of partners, including cities themselves.”

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