Miami-Dade County and the cities of Miami and Miami Beach collectively as Greater Miami and the Beaches is unprepared when it comes to responding to a disaster or public health threat and that’s why the Rockefeller Foundation has selected our fair city to become a member in their 100 Resilient Cities.
After all, what city or country goes around rehearsing for a catastrophe to occur?
For instance, several months ago various parts of Miami were stricken with the Zika Virus and the mayor had to do what was best for the city and his constituents.
He also had to follow mandates from the CDC and spray chemicals that were regarded as highly controversial.
The virus had to be contained, which meant that certain parts of Wynwood’s art and entertainment district had to be shut down for several days, which didn’t sit well with business owners.
Next, the virus flew the coup and landed in South Beach, which affected the tourist industry.
The virus on South Beach didn’t escalate as it did in Wynwood – nonetheless, it was a public health threat that city officials were unprepared to solve.
Miami isn’t alone in their struggles to withstand pressures such as climate change, high unemployment, endemic violence and homelessness, which are stressors that weaken the fabric of a city on a daily or cyclical basis.
Sea levels that rise, which results in flooding – hurricanes and disease outbreaks are considered acute shocks, which are sudden, sharp events that threaten a city.
These are just life occurrences that must be improved so the city can withstand, respond and adapt more readily to stressors and shocks to emerge more fortified after they occur and live a better quality of life afterwards.
The Rockefeller Foundation has made a $100 million commitment to building urban resilience in cities around the world, which gives the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses and systems within a city to survive, adapt and grow.
It sounds like each city will receive $1 million – right?
I’m sorry to report that Miami will not be receiving a check for $1 million – but we are being given membership in the new 100 Resilient Cities Network, support to hire a new Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) and support to create a resilience plan along with tools and resources for implementation, helping us leverage additional billions through innovative financing from capital resources such as the World Bank.
Other benefits include the very rare opportunity of learning about issues from other cities that we haven’t dealt with and vice versa with cities that are grappling with similar concerns.
Some municipalities have city or county managers that are tasked with responsibilities that build resilience, but according to the Rockefeller Foundation, virtually no city has a CRO.
By creating a CRO, who will serve at a very high level of city government will give rise to the voice of resilience at the highest levels within local government.
Government has a way of minimizing the concerns of the downtrodden – but the CRO is supposed to incorporate the views of the poor and vulnerable citizens.
Before the judges rendered a decision, Miami had to explain how their efforts to build resilience would positively impact the lives of poor and vulnerable residents.
Fort Lauderdale isn’t a part of the Resilience network – but they just had an ill-fated incident that occurred at the airport where we’re quite certain that city and county leaders will certainly be taking a closer look at urban resilience.
Since Broward is a neighboring county, it would be a good gesture for Miami to reach out to their officials, because building resilience requires partners from every sector to ensure social stability and promote cohesive communities.
In light of the attacks stateside and abroad, we must not be lured into thinking of resilience only after a disaster strikes.
Frankly speaking – cities need to be proactive to be able to internalize past experiences and link them with feedback that provides foresight, which allows new solutions to come forth.
Resilience is not just for times of stress, it’s for a better, more vibrant, thriving city, in good times and in bad.