How do you make your city resilient? Start by appointing a Chief Resilience Officer and then engage with as many stakeholders as possible from the public, government and the private sector.

Lauren Sorkin

Half of the world’s infrastructure expected to be in place by 2070 has not yet been built. The world will have changed dramatically by the time it is in place, so we need to understand now what our future infrastructure needs will be, and how to build an infrastructure that is both resilient in itself and adds to a city’s overall strength.

The right professional for the job

Step forward the Chief Resilience Officer (CRO). Perhaps with a background in risk management, the CRO is a masterful connector, strategic adviser, broker and talented engager of communities. Above all, the CRO knows how to change the culture of an entire city.

It’s an emerging profession, with its own networks, and its own knowledge and training needs. To date there are fewer than 70 CROs worldwide. The need is for tens of thousands.

We have a once in lifetime opportunity to build better.

Three CROs from across Asia shared their experience at the Annual Summit of the World Built Environment Forum in Shanghai this week. The cities of Semarang (capital of Central Java), Bangkok and Yiwu (China) had all adopted a common strategy developed by the 100 Resilient Cities network, all with a common starting point:  ask not what we are building something for but why are we building it in the first place? 

All three cities launched public consultations to develop a strategy, with a vision, goals and a financial plan. Each strategy is tailored, but typically includes plans for smart transportation, economic diversification, asset optimisation and emergency planning.

What to prioritise?

Semarang’s strategy prioritised tidal flooding, disease management, traffic congestion and land-use densification driven by rapid development.

Bangkok was eager to avoid a repeat of the 2011 flood that affected 13 million people and cost $46 billion. For its citizens, historic development on flood plains, rainwater catchment, dykes and urban flood defences were key elements of Bangkok’s vision for a safe, reliable, sustainable city, offering high quality of life and a competitive economy.

Yiwu was developing rapidly into a multi-billion dollar centre for e-commerce, handling over 2 million parcels per day, but facing competition from cities in Bangladesh and Vietnam. Quality of life for a growing middle class and resilient logistics were key considerations for Yiwu, with rail links now extending as far as the UK.

Every city needs to be resilient; as Bangkok, Semarang and Yiwu have found, appointing a CRO was the right place to start. 

Lauren Sorkin addresses WBEF

Picture shows Lauren Sorkin addressing WBEF.

About the World Built Environment Forum (WBEF)

The World Built Environment Forum demonstrates responsible leadership for the built environment and hosts summits which take place around the world. 

This forum creates and sets the standard for dialogue and collaboration among professionals, clients, policy makers and regulators with the aim of driving up standards so that our profession and our industry show responsible leadership in enabling sustainable growth.

Find out more about the WBEF, access videos from the event and get details of upcoming events.

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