Lagos joins the list of resilient cities around the world

The world has changed remarkably since 2000. Today, cities are home to 54 percent of the world’s population, and by the middle of this century that figure will rise to 66 percent, according to the United Nations.

While urbanization and growth go hand in hand, and bring about socioeconomic transformation, wealth generation, prosperity and development; with this growth comes major problems, from rapid rate of population growth, to unplanned social, economic development and natural disasters.

Developing countries, especially in Africa, carry a greater burden of these changes.

This conveys a clear message, that the current urbanization model is unsustainable in many respects, puts many people at risk, creates unnecessary costs, negatively affects the environment, and is intrinsically unfair to change, hence the need to better respond to the challenges of our time, such as, fires, floods, water shortages, homelessness, unemployment, inequality, climate change, informality, and  insecurity.

In addressing these issues, the Rockefeller Foundation started 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) just over 4 years ago, designed to help cities around the world become more resilient to these physical, social, and economic challenges.

On Tuesday, Lagos State in Nigeria, was confirmed as one of the 37 cities around the world to join the illustrious 100 cities last year, and will receive technical support and resources to develop and implement a Resilience Strategy. The city’s listing to the 100 resilient initiative will give the state access of $200 million to support the resilient strategy adopted.

With over 21 million inhabitants susceptible to damage from rising sea levels and coastal erosion, which have already led to a decline in water quality, coastal flooding from storm surges, among other issues, the technical support couldn’t have been felt better than now.

Beaming with smile, the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, on Tuesday received the Certificate of Admission of the state as one of the 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) in the world. He described the event as not only historic in the annals of the state but a confirmation that the efforts to build a globally competitive State had received international recognition.

“We are thrilled to formally begin our partnership with 100RC. Today’s workshop is the starting point for the creation of Lagos’ Resilience Strategy – a plan for our city to thrive in the face of growing challenges. Through this partnership, we will address our city’s challenges proactively, inclusively, and holistically,”  he said.

Incorporating resilience planning and principles not only prepares cities for disasters and long-term threats,”  Michael Berkowitz, president, 100 Resilient Cities. “It also improves everyday living standards for all members of an urban community.”

As Lagos joined this illustrious list , Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities said the state will help fuel global momentum around building urban resilience, in the continent.

In an Interview with The Nerve Africa, Berkowitz expressed belief that when the Resilience Strategy is concluded, Lagos can better respond to adverse events and is more capable of delivering basic functions in both good times and bad, to all populations.

“100RC supports the adoption and incorporation of a view of resilience that includes not just the shocks – such as earthquakes, floods, disease outbreaks, etc. – but also the stresses that weaken the fabric of a city on a day to day or cyclical basis.” he said.

“For  every city that has made it on to the final list, many more have been rejected, during the assessment process. Since 2013, 100RC says it has received more than 1,000 applications to join the network, including 325 during this third round of appraisals.”

He explained that Lagos, first key target is to identify and appoint a “chief resilience officer” (CRO) from within the city, whose salary will typically then be funded by the programme for two years. Thus the next step is to create a “resilience strategy”; a blueprint for how the city plans to move to a more integrated, coherent way of tackling both sudden shocks and long-term urban pressures.

Through these offerings, 100RC aims to not only help individual cities become more resilient, Berkowitz noted that the resilient strategy will facilitate the creation of a global practice of resilience building.

“Though 100 Resilient Cities is only 4 years old, we’re already seeing that resilience is working—and that cities are beginning to institutionalize and mainstream of this work beyond the bounds of their relationship with our organization.”