Phnom Penh among 35 cities to join Rockefeller Foundation initiative this year

PHNOM PENH (The Cambodia Herald) — America’s Rockefeller Foundation announced Wednesday that Phnom Penh was among 35 cities chosen from nearly 350 applicants to join its 100 Resilient Cities initiative this year.

The cities will join 32 named last year as part of a network of urban centers ready to respond to the social, economic and physical shocks and stresses of the 21st century.

Apart from Singapore, Phnom Penh was the only Southeast Asian city among this year’s winners. Only five other Asian cities were chosen, namely Deyang and Huangshi in China, Bangalore and Chennai in India, and Toyoma in Japan.

‘CHIEF RESILIENCE OFFICERS’

Under the initiative, launched with a $100 million commitment from the foundation last year, each city on the network is eligible for grants to hire a chief resilience officer.

Such officers are supposed to “lead the analysis, planning and implementation of the city’s resilience strategy, working with different government agencies and across sectors of society,” a statement said. 

“They will also receive technical support and services they need as they work towards implementing that strategy, as well as access a variety of platform partners in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. 

“These partners will offer tools in areas such as innovative finance, technology, infrastructure, land use, and community and social resilience.”

Speaking at an Urban Resilience Summit in Singapore
Wednesday, Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin said  
network members were “leading the world” in showing that it was not only possible but also imperative to build urban resilience in every kind of city.

PREPARING FOR BAD TIMES, LIVING BETTER IN GOOD TIMES 

“Cities are learning that by building resilience, not only will they be better prepared for the bad times, but also life becomes better in the good times, especially for the poor and vulnerable,” she said. “It’s smart investment, and yields a resilience dividend that is a win for everyone.”

The foundation defines urban resilience as “the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses and systems to survive, adapt and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience.”

Such challenges can range from the impact of super-typhoons to growing socio-economic inequality or the ability to respond to booming populations and waning food supplies.

“Each city is unique, and through the 100RC network, cities are building on each other’s experiences, and learning the best resilience-building techniques,” said Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities.

“By connecting cities with each other and to resilience-building experts, we are aiming to create a global practice of scalable resilience solutions, so that cities can respond to the challenges of this urban century more effectively and efficiently,” he said.

‘SPECIAL ATTENTION TO THE NEEDS OF THE POOR AND VULNERABLE’

The statement said this year’s winner were chosen for their “ability to demonstrate a unique vision for resilience, a long-term commitment to cutting across silos of government and sectors of society, and a special attention to the needs of the poor and vulnerable.”

Winners were recommended by a panel that included former president José María Figueres Olsen of Costa Rica, African Development Bank Donald Kaberuka, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations Chairman Isher Ahluwali and Asia Society President Josette Sheeran.  

 Based in New York, the Rockefeller Foundation was set up by American oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller in 1913.