ACCCRN Learning Forum concludes with sights firmly set on the future of resilience
During this third and final day of the forum both speakers and participants focused on prospective thinking. On one hand the forum looked at how ACCCRN as a network will develop, as well as how it might shape or influence other Rockefeller Foundation work; on the other, representatives of younger Rockefeller Foundation efforts shared updates and emerging insights.
Ashvin Dayal, the Foundation’s Associate Vice President and Managing Director, Asia, took stock of the resilience and urban climate change resilience fields. The Foundation has carried out an analysis on the evolution of resilience as a field and found that “as a field of practice it continues to evolve in a strong and positive way”. A vast majority of resilience approaches take a cross-disciplinary approach, a finding that emerged from The Foundation’s research unit. This is reflected in the Foundation’s support for many partner organizations who approach their resilience building work from this cross-disciplinary perspective. However, Dayal highlighted that geographical representation needed improving as there is an overrepresentation of North America, Europe and Oceania compared to other regions of the world. The session concluded with a buzz session looking at how resilience as a paradigm could continue to evolve while maintaining focus, momentum and relevance.
Katherine Michonski, from HR&A Advisors and Director of the Global Resilience Academy (GRA) went on to outline how the GRA will bring about multidisciplinary and transformative change. The Academy is holding a session on Day 4 of the forum to garner the expertise and experiences of ACCCRN network professionals, but also to test the emerging methods and syllabus in its first foray outside of North America.
Sachin Boite from ARUP International Development went on to present the recently launched City Resilience Index that provides 12 goals that all cities can strive for, and which can help cities to identify strengths and weaknesses, thereby informing decision making and pointing to areas where systemic synergies can be strengthened. This tool is openly available for cities to test their resilience through an online portal.
Carey Meyers of The Rockefeller Foundation went on to present another new aspect of the Foundation’s work to strengthen the field of resilience: digital engagement to connect resilience communities. This new beta platform is currently being called the “Resilience Recommender” and it represents the first global resilience resource of its kind. It aims to draw on a community of resilience practitioners to provide resilience-related content that adapts to the interests and needs of individual users.
During the following session, shifting and evolving resilience paradigms were explored by a mixed panel of ACCCRN champions and The Rockefeller Foundation’s own experts. Gopalkrishna Bhat from TARU Leading Edge opened the session by looking at the importance of understanding how resilience must catalyze overall paradigm shifts in social, economic and political spheres. He encouraged all of those present to push for long-term change in the building of city infrastructure projects by integrating resilience considerations. He added that structural change in approaches to procurement, management and commercialization are necessary to enable cities to become more resilient.
Sam Carter from The Rockefeller Foundation went on to stress the need to shift the way development agencies work so that they are prepared for greater risks and less predictable outcomes in their field. The Global Resilience Partnership is an example that Carter used to elaborate how an organization like the Foundation can build a partnership to change norms and propose funding to change the way we work through visionary and bold projects. A key example of this method was also through RF’s Building by Design initiative in the U.S.
Bryna Lipper, Vice President of 100RC spoke of Chief Resilience Officers (CRO) of different cities working together to build inter-departmental practice, a key aspect to strengthening overall city resilience. CROs also form an international network through which they can consult each other and share wisdom as a new way to build collective practice. 100RC has also teamed up with partners from the private sector and government agencies, sharing risk as well as garnering their contribution in responses to shocks and stresses. The organization’s private sector partners have signalled their interest in investing in new services and products that can help cities better deal with resilience challenges. Under the 100RC initiative, many mayors have already committed up to 10 per cent of their budget and provided existing resources for resilience building.
Paul Jeffery of USAID’s APIK project agreed that a partnership with the private sector is vital. His project also zeros in on the importance of business involvement by aiming to incentivize them to invest in resilience building. The Apik project is the largest single country USAID investment in Asia, with around $US19m committed. The project has numerous specificities which speak to the challenges of UCCCR projects from the region, in particular its implementation focuses on problems of scale. The “Landscape approach”, echoing certain experiences in ACCCRN is an innovation, helping communities that are under pressure and developing fast to mould approaches around natural resources such as watershed or lakes.
Ratri Sutarto, the Director of the ACCCRN Network closed the session by reflecting with participants on how the network has evolved, with over 800 members worldwide so far, she highlighted that this event is only the beginning in a new chapter as the network fine tunes its brand and looks to new models of development. She stressed that the network’s niche is in part its membership base of urban climate change resilience practitioners and a great body of success with community based approaches that focus on helping the urban poor.
Jenifer Bielman, the Director of Mercy Corps Indonesia and Aniessa Delima Sari, ACCCRN program manager concluded that the importance of resilience still had to be realized by some actors in the region and that there was much to do. Bielman emphasized the profound effect that their interaction with The Rockefeller Foundation has had on Mercy Corps as an institution, with resilience approaches mainstreaming across all of the agency’s programming.