Cities nationwide are managing the devastating human and economic impacts of an increasing number of disasters, while working to address the everyday challenges arising from changing economic systems, systemic disinvestment in vulnerable communities and accelerating population growth.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that local and federal officials are feeling increased pressure to better use existing resources and make communities resilient, safer and stronger. This policy platform contains a series of recommendations that, if enacted, would remove barriers and provide better access to federal resources that local governments use to foster thriving communities.

100 Resilient Cities (100RC) works with cities around the world to help them become more resilient to the social, economic, and physical challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. Here in the U.S., more than two dozen local governments have appointed 100RC-sponsored Chief Resilience Officers (CROs) to develop and implement strategies to increase urban resilience. Their work seeks to increase the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses and systems to survive, adapt, and grow in the face of both acute shocks — sudden, sharp events that threaten a city, like earthquakes and floods — and chronic stresses that weaken the fabric of a city on a daily or cyclical basis, like poverty and housing shortages.

Working together, cities and their partners have identified many actions that cities can take to increase their resilience, but mayors and city staff cannot do this work alone. Cities rely on partnerships, in many cases with the Federal Government, to make their cities safer and more resilient. Federal grants, loans, loan guarantees, and other federally-backed sources such as mortgage insurance and flood insurance help cities finance and protect critical investments. Federal regulations and guidance set minimum requirements and provide information to guide cities’ decision-making and use of federal dollars. And federally generated data inform project planning and, implementation.

Gentilly District, New Orleans, Louisiana

The Federal Government has done an admirable job of investing in cities’ projects and programs, providing data and technical expertise and regulating private and utility actors. Cities deeply benefit from and value these investments, but they often come with challenges. For instance, while cities rely on federal funds for affordable housing, infrastructure, and small businesses growth, all are authorized by different laws. Each funding source and corresponding law comes with a unique set of regulations, and this complexity can create barriers for cities aiming to use federal funding efficiently for integrated and effective solutions. In addition, while the federal data on flood plains is invaluable to cities, in many places, these data are out date, lacking a reflection of changes to the built environment and climate conditions. 100RC worked with cities and national policy experts from the private, academic, and nonprofit sectors to develop concrete federal policy recommendations aimed at solving the challenges they face in advancing urban resilience.

These federal policy recommendations provide a framework for cities and their champions to advocate for a collective federal resilience agenda. The strategies here are designed to be both ambitious and politically viable, so that in coming years, cities can better use federal resources to ensure the safety, security and stability their residents deserve. This report also identifies potential allies in other organizations advocating for federal solutions to better support communities. We hope that these recommendations will prove useful to cities eager to see federal reforms that can further resilience.

On behalf of the 100RC, we hope mayors, local leaders as well as partners in the Federal Administration will use the following recommendations to facilitate the removal of federal barriers to resilience and spark innovative ideas for collaboration and additional resources to better protect and support the people who need it most.

Michael Berkowitz
President, 100 Resilient Cities

Otis Rolley
Regional Director of North America, 100 Resilient Cities

Prepared by Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. in collaboration with Climate Resilience Consulting, Georgetown Climate Center and HR&A Advisors, with funding provided by 100 Resilient Cities — Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation.