Dyson College of Arts and Sciences

Summit on Resilience II: The Next Storm

Dyson College of Arts and Sciences - Year in Review 2011-2012

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The session closed by circling to the need to build the city's intellectual infrastructure as a vital step toward maintaining its resilience. As moderator, I mentioned I'd visited the remarkable public High School for Energy and Technology in the Bronx, where many students learn skills that can get them jobs in managing buildings' heating and cooling systems. Ornektekin smiled, eager to add one last point. She had previously been the director of sustainability for the New York City Department of Education. "I helped start that school," she said. She explained the idea came because the city couldn't find enough trained technicians to work on the new energy management systems it was installing in city buildings. "We had the money," she said, "but we couldn't spend it because there weren't enough people out there to do the work." That gap is now being filled. The capstone of the meeting was a sweeping talk by Michael Berkowitz, president of the 100 Resilient Cities initiative of the Rockefeller Foundation. The project aims to foster and spread a culture of resilience in cities around the world that are vulnerable to hazards, including climate change. (Explore the project at the website 100resilientcities.org.) This is a keystone effort of the foundation, created in 2013 on its 100th anniversary. Why cities? "By 2050," Berkowitz said, "three out of every four people are going to live in cities, and at the same time those cities are going to be more and more vulnerable, whether it's because of climate change, whether it's insufficient infrastructure, whether it's because of new groups and populations living together in different ways that cause unrest." Berkowitz's presentation contained one of the most helpful takeaways of the Second Summit—a visual "wheel" that describes the four key dimensions of a resilient city: leadership and strategy; health and wellbeing; economy and society; and infrastructure and environment. These quadrants help focus the interdisciplinary inquiry and dialogue that is needed to shape effective policies and investments. Berkowitz, who had previously directed New York City's Office of Emergency Management, among other positions, pointed again and again to the human factor. His team defines resilience as "the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience." The program is both attempting to identify cities with the potential to shift development patterns to reduce risk and make sure they share insights to refine and propagate smart practices and policies. 11

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