The Rockefeller Foundation has selected Barcelona from more than 330 candidates as one of the latest 35 cities to be added to the resilient cities network this year.
Barcelona’s place in the 100RC (100 Resilient Cities) network was recently confirmed, giving the city access to tools, financing, technical help and other resources needed to build urban resilience. The network constitutes an avant-guard international group, including Paris, London, Singapore, Bangalore, Amman and Chicago. Created in 2013 by the Rockefeller Foundation – which is also providing the funding – 100RC is a non-profit organisation committed to helping cities worldwide develop the resilience they need to proactively address the major challenges of the 21st century.
Barcelona had already been recognised by UN-Habitat in 2013, being chosen as the global headquarters for its City Resilience Profiling Programme, in which the city is an active participant alongside nine other cities selected from around the world: Balangoda (Sri Lanka), Beirut (Lebanon), Dagupan (Philippines), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Lokoja (Nigeria), Portmore (Jamaica), Talcahuano/Concepción (Chile), Tehran (Iran) and Wellington (New Zealand). This international cooperation programme has set an objective for December 2016 to establish an analysis framework and to test it using empirical data. The idea is to gauge these cities’ resilience and to implement software and interface tools to connect their data. The final objective will be to define global urban resilience standards and agree upon a new regulatory framework that enables the monitoring of urban systems on a global scale.
“Barcelona has a highly interconnected concept of resilience, as it goes beyond infrastructure services to also integrate social and health services. In the face of an emergency, all parties involved have to be integrated. It’s a holistic approach; that’s what’s new about the Barcelona model” explains Maíta Fernández, coordinator for UN-Habitat’s City Resilience Profiling Programme. “If there’s an accident with fatalities, the city’s social services look after the family and also conduct a subsequent follow-up. Based on this, they proceed with whatever further services are needed in each case. The same thing happens with people who have lost their home to a fire”.
The main constraint the resilience specialists encounter to the application of their programmes is the difficulty of justifying investment. “Politicians will always give priority to other things before designating budget to address hypothetical impacts. Above all, programmes such as UN-Habitat’s must serve to calibrate standards that will address future threats, from those to do with climate change to cyberattacks by hackers or fundamentalist terrorism,” says Fernández.