City of Houston

Houston Joins Group Focused on Making Cities More Resilient

The goal of partnering with the 100 Resilient Cities Network is enhancing the city’s long-term vision

Michael Berkowitz (left), president of the 100 Resilient Cities Network, speaks at City Hall during the event to announce Houston’s incorporation to the group. Mayor Sylvester Turner, Council Member Ellen Cohen and Council Member David Robinson were also at the event.

Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Wednesday that Houston is joining the 100 Resilient Cities Network, a $164 million global effort to build urban resilience around the world. Through the partnership, Houston will create and implement a comprehensive Resilience Strategy to enhance the city’s long-term vision to build resilience to the shocks —such as hurricanes and flooding — and stresses that can weaken affordable housing and mobility, among other things.

Turner made the announcement along with Michael Berkowitz, president of 100 Resilient Cities, which is pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, and Bruce Culpepper, president and US Country chair of Shell Oil Company, during an event held at Houston City Hall.

Shell is sponsoring Houston’s membership in the 100RC Network with $1.8 million.

Proactive solutions

100RC’s program empowers cities to design, implement, and manage proactive solutions to the challenges posed by urbanization, globalization, and climate change. Houston is the first city to enter the global network since the final 100 Resilient Cities Challenge in 2016, and is the first to enter through the sponsorship of a third party.

“When you’re building resiliency it’s not just a one day effort. It’s a long-term effort,” Turner said during the event. “We’re going to be dealing with a lot of shocks and stresses. We’ve dealt with them already. We’re going to deal with them this year and the years to come.”

As part of its membership in the 100RC Network, Houston will receive grant funding to hire a Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) to work directly with leaders and stakeholders across the city in developing a comprehensive Resilience Strategy for Houston.

Current CRO and Flood Czar Stephen Costello will continue to serve as the city’s “flood czar.”

Not just flooding mitigation

Nonetheless, Turner noted the risk of flooding is only one component. “What I’m looking for is a city that will be much stronger and much more resilient a year from now. And that’s not just in the mitigation of flooding. That’s one component,” the Mayor said.

Turner added “it’s also the additional infrastructure that will be needed across the board” and that he’s looking for “a better mobility system because that’s critically important.”

To support the implementation and execution of initiatives in their Resilience Strategy, the City of Houston will also now have access to the 100RC Platform of Partners, a group of 120 non-profit, for-profit, academic and government institutions who have pledged more than $200 million in services — at no direct cost to member cities — in the form of critical tools, services, and technical assistance.

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