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Resilience – it’s just good business

How vulnerable are today’s cities?

The United Nations estimates that, by 2050, around 7 in every 10 people with live in an urban centre. This increased urbanisation places immense stresses on the infrastructure and economy of those cities – stresses that are only going to continue growing.

Existing cities, and those growing around the globe at rapid rates, will need to build resilience into their systems if they are to survive and flourish through the 21st century and beyond. Local and national authorities will require a concentrated strategy to future-proof the world’s conurbations against the effects of surging population and climate change.

Resilient/City is an organisation founded to help them do so, acting through strategic and innovative partnerships to prepare cities for the physical, social and economic challenges of tomorrow.

As Thomas Frieden, director of the US Centers for Disease Control, noted: ‘Resilient systems are everyday systems that can be scaled up. Managing in an emergency is like managing normally, except more so.” In other words, as cities work to build resilience, they should develop procedures that enable them to carry out their daily mission, whatever that mission may be.
Dr Alexander Mirescu, Resilient/City’s CEO & Founder, agrees. He works with municipal authorities and private enterprises alike to build this everyday resilience into the foundation of city systems. He highlights the particularly acute danger of water: many cities do not have adequate flood resilience or water reserves, making them vulnerable to both sides of extreme temperature and storms.

But how do cities reduce those risks, then?

‘You cannot reduce your risks until you know what those risks are,’ Dr Mirescu says, going on to emphasise the importance of detailed evaluation and smart partnership in order to first understand urban risks, then act on them to build resilience.

The range of partnerships and expertise on hand at Resilient/City is what sets it apart, he says, and their objectivity enables them to see a broader picture than city authorities and citizens.

And what happens if cities don’t become resilient? ‘Simply put, cities will begin to fail,’ Dr Mirescu asserts. Fortunately, Resilient/City has noticed a change in mindset around the importance of safety and infrastructure, and an uptick in the political will needed to solve the challenges that lie ahead.