The City of Oakland just announced its first Chief Resilience Officer (CRO). “What’s that?” I hear you ask. Well, the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative (100RC) is “dedicated to helping cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century.” Oakland has been awarded a place in the program and the appointment of a CRO is an important step in securing its future resiliency. The next round of applications for 100RC closes 10 September, 2014, so read on to see how your city can participate.
Oakland has its fair share of issues – from California’s ongoing drought to those pesky earthquakes. The CRO’s role is to break down existing cross-sector and departmental barriers so that these issues can be addressed. Victoria Salinas has been named CRO and will lead Oakland’s planning in preparedness for and mitigation of both acute disasters and long-term issues such as rising sea levels. She will also be responsible for implementing the city’s 2012 Energy and Climate Action Plan. Salinas’s CV is impressive and includes roles with the United Nations Development Programme, the State Department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Her role will be fully funded by 100RC.
Oakland is one of 32 cities so far selected for the 100RC initiative. As the Foundation states: “100RC supports the adoption and incorporation of a view of resilience that includes not just the shocks – earthquakes, fires, floods, etc. – but also the stresses that weaken the fabric of a city on a day to day or cyclical basis. … By addressing both the shocks and the stresses, a city becomes more able to respond to adverse events, and is overall better able to deliver basic functions in both good times and bad, to all populations.” A number of participating cities have appointed CROs, and have begun the process of identifying and mapping the unique and common threats they face. The CROs also communicate strategies and ideas with each other.
The next round of applications for the initiative close on 10 September, 2014. The Rockefeller Foundation has identified four key qualities that successful program participants have in common, including an innovative, engaged and committed Chief Executive, a recent catalyst for change (such as an identifiable threat), a demonstrated ability to work with a broad range of invested stakeholders, and a willingness to engage in a partnership. Successful applicants receive governance and operational infrastructure support from the program, as well as access to the support network of other participating cities and program partners.