Rockefeller Ups the Ante in its 100 Resilient Cities Challenge

The Rockefeller Foundation announced its massive $100 million, 100 Resilient Cities Challenge a few years ago. The purpose of the challenge is to help cities around the world better prepare for acute shocks such as natural disasters and terrorist attacks, as well as chronic stresses like high unemployment, violence, and water shortages. The foundation began its inaugural year with 32 cities, and recently announced the addition of 35 cities into the program. The hope here is that these chosen cities will become models that other urban areas can replicate toward improving their resilience.

It looks like more cities will have the opportunity to better protect themselves with the help of Rockefeller, as it recently announced that it was putting up an additional $64 million for the program.

Rockefeller is focusing its resilience efforts on cities rather than rural areas of the world for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that an estimated 75 percent of the global population will live in cities by the year 2050 (these estimates vary, of course, and the UN puts the number at around 66 percent). Naturally, the more people you have per square mile, the more stress you have on urban infrastructure, economies, and environments. Schools become overcrowded, jobs become more difficult to find, and housing shortages occur. Conditions such as these are precisely what the Rockefeller Foundation is trying to mitigate with its 100 Resilient Cities Challenge.

Overburdened infrastructure isn’t the only concern for the foundation here. Rockefeller has always been keyed into resiliency in the face of climate change, but it’s also dialed in to how data—the lack of it or the lack of security surrounding it—can contribute to the disruption of an entire urban area. Earlier this year, the foundation partnered with Microsoft and its CityNext Initiative, which aims to help cities become more modern, safer, healthier and increasingly educated. 

Microsoft is working with a few 100 Resilient Cities members by providing cybersecurity experts that will lead workshops to prioritize security threats and needs, increase cybersecurity education, and develop best practices in cybersecurity strategies.

Acute shocks and chronic stresses are going to happen, but as president of the Rockefeller Foundation, Judith Rodin puts it, “Not every disruption has to become a disaster.”