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Interview: Michael Berkowitz

Michael Berkowitz, President of the 100 Resilient Cities network, met with Tom Teodorczuk, at their offices in New York to talk about the new 10 percent resilience pledge and the selection of the final 33 cities that will join the network in April

2015 seemed a particularly busy year for 100 Resilient Cities. New York and New Orleans released their Resilient Strategies, you hosted the first ever Resilience Day at COP21, and launched The Resilience Pledge.

True. 100 cities is a lot. Even though we only have 67 cities so far, there are 40 different countries speaking 24 languages. That’s one aspect why the pace has been so frenetic. Another aspect is people are beginning to realise that resilience is a really important concept and resilience being as broad as we define it means there are different kinds of partners who need and want to play a role in cities.

Michael Berkowitz, President, 100 Resilient Cities
Photo: Marie-Helene Carleton/Four Corners Media

100RC seeks to build resilience in cities by tackling stresses, not just shocks. Can you elaborate on this distinction?

We’re now reading the third round of applications from cities and they tend to be shock-focused. Lots of times cities come in with this perspective that resilience is about surviving the next hurricane, tornado or terrorist attack. But what’s interesting–and this has reasonated with cities–is understanding where the intersection between the shocks and the stresses is. For example, Paris applied to our programme in 2014 with a very environmental agenda. They saw COP21 coming and Mayor Hidalgo is an environmentally focused mayor. Then the terrorist attacks in 2015 happened. Now, there was an opening for Paris to think about how to rearchitect itself in ways that both reduces pollution and flooding potential and integrates new immigrants.

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