UC News - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Experts presenting to the 100 resilience cities


Dr John Vargo

13 June 2014

Two University of Canterbury experts will present to the Rockefeller Foundation in New York today about creating more resilient organisations.

The Foundation launched the 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge last year to enable 100 cities to better address the increasing shocks and stresses of the 21st century. Nearly 400 cities across six continents applied to be among the 100 cities selected to receive technical support and resources to improve their urban resilience over three years.

Christchurch is receiving support from the Rockefeller Foundation to create and implement a resilience plan and hire a chief resilience officer to oversee the resilience strategy.

Canterbury resilience researchers Dr John Vargo and Dr Erica Seville say their focus in presenting to the foundation will zero in on the importance of having resilient organisations within a city.

"A city can’t be resilient unless the organisations that enable it to function are resilient. Organisations are like a keystone species within the ecology of a successful city - they touch every part of how a city functions. 

"Organisations own, operate and maintain our critical infrastructure, they create the economy, provide employment, are places where people gather and support the resilience of the people and communities they work within,’’ Dr Vargo says. 

Dr Seville says the foundation is putting $US100 million into creating a network of cities around the world working to become more resilient. 

"At the significant initiative of Christchurch mayor Lianne Dalziell, Christchurch was successful in becoming one of Rockefeller’s 100 Resilient Cities. Dr Vargo and I will be talking to the foundation on our research over the last 10 years on how to make organisations more resilient and we will be making the case to Rockefeller that organisations are a potential leverage point for driving the resilience agenda forward for cities around the world.’’

The pair of academics have been working on resilience for the last decade and they have formed the Resilience Organisation with support from Auckland University and half a dozen University of Canterbury postgraduate researchers who engage with the community.

Christchurch’s recovery is in full swing as the rebuild seeks to draw people back into the central city. Dr Seville says acceptance into the 100 Resilient Cities Network will provide a much needed boost for Christchurch as it strives to capture the potential of its recovery. It will also bring a pool of knowledge and experience that will inspire and engage other cities around the world to proactively develop and manage their own resilience.

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Kip Brook
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University of Canterbury
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kip.brook@canterbury.ac.nz