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Rockefeller Foundation interested in sharing programs and grants with BECC

Posted on August 18, 2014

Rockefeller Foundation interested in sharing programs and grants with BECC

The significance of this visit lies in the fact that the 100 Resilient Cities Program pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation may represent the availability of grants for Juarez to support sustainability or enhance the ability of its natural systems to maintain or regain functionality and ensure that the city's infrastructure and services can address 21st century shocks and stresses.

Aaron Spencer, Relationship Manager for the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities Program, visited BECC's headquarters on June 18th to meet with its General Managers. He was accompanied by Sean McGlynn, Interim Deputy City Manager for the City of El Paso, and his colleague Anna Apodaca. The visiting delegation also included José Arturo Ramos, Tourism Director for the City of Juarez, on behalf of Mayor Enrique Serrano. 

In his welcoming remarks, BECC's Deputy General Manager, José Mario Sánchez, talked about the importance of the BECC and NADB for the border. Next, BECC's General Manager Maria Elena Giner gave an overview of the BECC/NADB structure and their most important achievements at twenty years of their creation. She made emphasis on one of the BECC's: complementing its work by establishing partnerships with strategic stakeholders such as this prominent Foundation.   

Under this program, a resilient city is one that demonstrates features that enable it to maintain its essential functions to address acute risks and chronic threats. It is based on enhancing the institutional capacity of cities with regards to their leadership and strategies, including robust urban systems and services, health and wellness and, in general, coverage of basic health care and employment needs, emergency response capacity, adequate medical facilities, and evacuation, risk management, and alert plans.   

This is a significant program because in 1913, only 10% of the world’s population lived in cities; that figure is currently 50%, and is expected to become 75% by 2050. 

The program defines a resilient city as one where individuals, communities, institutions, businesses and systems have the capacity to survive and grow regardless of the types of stresses and shocks they face.

The Foundation estimates that these man-made and natural stresses and shocks represent a cost in terms of urban disasters that may exceed US $380 billion. Hence the importance of this program that makes available US $100 million to strengthen the institutional capacities of cities with planning, innovative and strategic initiatives, broad public consultation, and participation and commitment of the community, including vulnerable groups.

The Rockefeller Foundation launched the 100 Resilient Cities Program in 2013. To date, the program has 34 member cities, including El Paso, Berkley, New Orleans, Los Angeles, and New York in the United States. In Latin America, Mexico City has also joined the program, as well as Medellin, Rio de Janeiro, and Quito. As part of the program, selected cities receive technical support and resources to improve their resilience over a three year period. In addition to their affiliation to the program, member cities receive support from the Foundation to create and implement a resilience plan and to hire a Chief Resilience Officer to oversee the resilience strategy.   

Spencer said the program currently includes 34 cities. During his visit to the BECC, he highlighted the Foundation's interest in including Ciudad Juarez, "being a border town that can share the experiences it has gained, especially as a result of NAFTA." This is a great opportunity, he said, for El Paso –already a member community—and Juarez to participate in the program as twin cities. 

After meeting at the BECC's headquarters, the Foundation's official visited with Mayor Serrano with the purpose of encouraging the city "to begin the application process to join the program's next class and in the near future, use the lessons learned, including high stress circumstances such as stormwater drainage or air quality issues" that the two cities have shared and continue sharing, "with the involvement of so many federal and state stakeholders." 

At the global level, he said, "the idea is to establish a network of cities that can interact with each other and improve their institutional capacities with the lessons learned, to better adapt to environmental contingencies and establish long-term, mutually beneficial cross-sectional cooperation partnerships.”

José Mario Sánchez Soledad said in an interview that the meeting "is critical for the BECC to better understand the concept of resilience under the framework of the Green Infrastructure Forum to be hosted by this institution in September."

One of the outcomes of this visit was that it opened up the possibility of establishing a partnership between the Foundation and the BECC to share technical assistance resources for planning and institutional capacity building under the resilient cities concept, both Spencer and General Manager Maria Elena Giner said. 




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