Resilience Joint Work Programme Has a Very Active First Six Months
Since its launch at COP21 in December 2015, the Cities Alliance Joint Work Programme for Resilient Cities has been very active. It has welcomed two new members, the global research organisation World Resources Institute (WRI) and The Ecological Sequestration Trust (TEST), an independent non-profit organisation and charity.
WRI and TEST are both very welcome additions to the Joint Work Programme. WRI has a long history in supporting climate resilience in cities, and is a leader in technical assistance for resilient and inclusive cities. It also brings significant experience in specific countries, including Brazil, Mexico, China, India and Indonesia.
TEST has been a key partner in the Cities Alliance Future Cities Africa project, which supports African cities as they transform themselves into resilient, inclusive centres of economic growth. The organisation developed resilience.io, an innovative decision-making tool that collects data on a city from various sources and brings it all together in one place. TEST piloted the tool in Accra, Ghana as part of Future Cities Africa, and will bring that wealth of experience to other cities.
The JWP has also been busy preparing grants for implementation. These include delivering state-of-the-art action planning tools for eight cities in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean. These tools will be directly linked to significant infrastructure investments; they are aimed at both leveraging investments and significantly reducing Green House Gases while at the same time looking at ways to increase access to energy for informal settlements.
Notably, the JWP has strengthened its partnership with 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation (100RC), a network that is dedicated to helping cities around the world become more resilient to physical, social and economic challenges. As a platform partner, Cities Alliance has been actively supporting 100RC cities around the world, and that support is continuing as 100RC selects its third cohort of cities in May.
A truly unique partnership in the resilience field
Six months after the establishment of the JWP for Resilient Cities, several interesting observations have emerged. First is that Cities Alliance has become increasingly established in the city resilience field. We have strong partnerships and we understand our niche: Strengthening resilience in informal settlements, the socio-economic dimensions of resilience, and climate adaptation in cities.
Read Addressing resilience in cities and informal settlements, a blog by Cities Alliance Senior Urban Specialist Omar Siddique published in ICLEI’s CityTalk.
As we have become more deeply engaged in city resilience, it has also become clear to us that the view of resilience is evolving, and that cities are viewing resilience stresses as more of a developmental challenge. When we engage with city leaders, they don’t talk about shocks such as flooding, storms or earthquakes when they discuss resilience. Instead, they are keen to discuss long-term resilience stresses that impact city systems – lack of authority for adequate revenue collection, service delivery, and youth unemployment, for example.
It has also become apparent just how unique our JWP is within the resilience field. It is a new type of partnership, with a unique constellation of institutions: slum dweller networks, informal workers, city networks looking at resilience and climate change, combined with development partners, foundations, and multilateral partners such as the World Bank. This contrasts sharply with the traditional top-down, country-led efforts that have been the hallmark of many resilience approaches in the past. These types of broad partnerships are extremely important to making resilience inclusive; for example, through the JWP, slum dwellers were able to participate in COP21 and share their voice – the first time they have attended a Conference of Parties.
The JWP is also unusual in that it combines support for global knowledge, financing, tools and dialogue, and connects them with on-the-ground technical assistance and implementation. While many other resilience organisations focus on one or more of these aspects, the Cities Alliance JWP brings them all together for a more holistic, integrated approach.