Seven U.S. cities intend to dedicate 10% of their annual budgets toward resilience strategies under a worldwide program designed to fortify urban centers.
The nonprofit 100 Resilient Cities announced the initiative Wednesday during Resilience Day at the 21st annual Conference of the Parties in Paris. The pledges from 21 mayors total $5.2 billion in commitments.
The Rockefeller Foundation pioneered 100 Resilient Cities to help municipalities worldwide become more resilient not only to climate challenges but also to social and economic ones. To date, 100RC has committed $164 million worldwide to help cities build urban resilience.
In signing the pledge, each mayor or city leader commits to dedicating the equivalent of 10% of their city's annual budget toward defined, resilience-building activities throughout their terms in office. The announcement coincides with the first-ever resilience-focused convening of United Nations delegates.
U.S. cities are Pittsburgh; New Orleans; Oakland, Calif.; Berkeley, Calif.; Boulder, Colo.; Norfolk, Va.; and Tulsa, Okla.
"This commitment demonstrates our continued efforts within the city of Pittsburgh to build resilience, and it allows us to think strategically and concretely in regards to our allocation of resources in our budgets," said Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, whose city has received 11 bond-rating upgrades over a decade but is still under state oversight.
While each city will adapt to its local situations, cities may achieve the 10% funding goal through resilience initiatives such as new, pilot and ongoing programs; improving resilience value through a "resilience screen" on capital projects, expense budget items and procurements; and enhancing policies and regulations.
International cities in the pledge include Mexico City; Accra, Ghana; Amman, Jordan; Athens, Greece; Cali, Colombia; Huangshi, China; Kigali, Rwanda; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Rotterdam, Netherlands; Santa Fe, Argentina; and Toyama, Japan.
100 Resilient Cities just closed the applications for its final 33 network cities -- it already chose 67 -- and plans to announce winners early next year. The past few months, the organization announced the hiring of chief resilience officers in Boston and Los Angeles -- among the tools in 100RC's platform designed to help cities build their own resilience capacity -- and unveiled related strategies in New Orleans and Norfolk, Va.
In July, 100RC and Social Finance, a U.K.- and Boston-based nonprofit, announced a partnership to launch the initial resilience pay-for-success initiative. The partnership will provide guidance to 100RC member cities in the U.S. exploring pay-for-success financing opportunities.
Pay-for-success financing is also called social impact bonds, though the instruments are not bonds in the mainstream muni context. Supporters, however, find the catchword a handy marketing tool.
Bond rating agencies, meanwhile, are increasingly studying the ramifications of environmental and climate developments such as President Obama's proposed clean-power plan, earthquakes and hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas and oil deposits from shale rock.