Cities stand at the forefront of the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. Today, just over 50% of the world’s population lives in cities, and yet those areas are already responsible for 80% of global GDP – our economy is undoubtedly an urban one. Aging infrastructure, extreme weather, and mass migration will all disproportionately affect urban centers. By 2050, over 70% of the world’s population will live in cities, deepening and widening the impact of these patterns.
As today’s cities adapt to these challenges, it is estimated that more than 60% of metropolitan regions that will exist in 2050 have yet to even form. As they do, over 3 billion more people will be added to urban centers, and massive investments will be made to construct the infrastructure necessary to support them.
These global pressures affect individuals and systems on the local level, in the cities where they live. While presidents and prime ministers must slowly navigate national and international politics to reach a consensus on solutions, mayors and city leaders are already innovating and deploying new ideas, and making the investments that will provide tangible benefits for their citizens.
Urban resilience is the ability of a city to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience. Resilience requires cities to take transformative actions that make cities better, in both the short- and long-term, and allow cities to not only endure, but thrive, in both good times and bad.
100 Resilient Cities (100RC) possesses a unique vantage point for understanding this changing landscape. Though the concept of urban resilience is relatively new, the holistic lens it offers to decision makers is uniquely suited to meet the needs of the modern city. Several common challenges have emerged from our work over the past three years with member cities seeking to build urban resilience, and we are beginning to see the market respond with innovative solutions.
Cities committed to resilience are already actively collaborating with resilience experts and with one another, but service providers and investors from the private sector will be required to bridge the gap between cities’ current capacities and what they need to thrive in the 21st century.
100RC is working in response to two current truths: (1) cities are complex, siloed ecosystems and (2) existing market solutions that could be applied to urban challenges do not scale or otherwise reach cities efficiently. One of our goals in launching 100RC was to aggregate information on the evolving demands of resilient cities, and signal to the private sector what tools and services cities need.
Four Major Areas of Opportunity
1) Water Management: Water management issues, including flooding, water pollution, and water shortages, are priority risks for nearly all of our cities globally. The twin effects of climate change and population growth will continue to generate significant demand for integrated water management solutions in the years to come.
2) Big Data Management: “Smart City” technologies have captured the imagination, offering city leaders the ability to make data-driven decisions that optimize increasingly scarce resources. The private sector is rapidly developing new ways to manage a growing wealth of data, but there is still room to innovate in how those technologies are tailored to the disparate global needs of cities seeking to build resilience.
3) Innovative Financing: Many of our cities contend with inadequate access to capital and financing for their identified resilience projects; innovative approaches to financing such projects are in greater demand than ever. In addition, resilient cities have resoundingly expressed their need for more creative and forward-looking risk management and insurance options.
4) Technologies for Community Engagement: Plans and projects fail without proper support from local communities. New technologies have the capacity to revolutionize the ways in which city governments can garner input and support from local communities, and therefore such tools are in high demand across the 100RC network.
100RC creates a unique space in which forward-thinking cities are working together to strengthen the entire urban ecosystem and ensure their vibrancy in the face of an uncertain future. Through our work we have gained a deeper understanding of cities’ resilience priorities and the kinds of tools and services they need to fulfill them.
Resilient cities can only be built with collaboration from the private sector. We have already witnessed rapid uptake of the initial resilience products that companies have brought to market in response to the demands of global cities.
As you invest in the communities and economies of the 21st century, thinking and planning “at cityscale” will become ever-more important, with an ever-growing market for the most optimal and scalable solutions to pressing urban challenges. 100RC’s vanguard network of resilient cities is leading the charge.
Explore another recent 100RC report: Resilience in Action which details ways in which cities are institutionalizing resilience.