Chennai, a member of 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) network of the United States based Rockefeller Foundation, appointed the city’s first Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) last year. The project aims to come up with solutions for the city to survive, adapt, and grow in the face of any stress or challenges.
The six ‘discovery areas’ highlighted in the report, submitted on Tuesday, are water systems, metro governance, civic engagement, service delivery to vulnerable and low-income groups, healthy and planned urbanisation and financing urban resilience.
Michael Berkowitz, president of 100 Resilient Cities, who was present during the submission of the report, said the first phase of the project involved a close examination of the city in collusion with various stakeholders, to identify the weak or ‘discovery’ areas, the result of which was the preliminary report. “The second phase, over the next few months, will involve a deeper inspection of the discovery areas, with working groups ideating to identify projects which will improve resilience. We are trying to start a revolution in the way cities approach their problems. There will also be an effort to integrate existing initiatives and get them to interact with each other,” he said, adding that solving the city’s water woes emerged as a key problem.
Some of the projects here include a boost in converting the concrete roof-tops of buildings into green spaces and setting up a knowledge and facilitation centre, for an in-depth understanding of the work so far. “The Dutch Water Ministry had shown interest in partnering with Chennai for water security,” added Berkowitz.
The 100RC network will help the Chennai Corporation pick up funding for identified projects and allocate resources for technical consultancy and sponsor the CRO for two years. “Cities often complain of how poor they are but there is leverage, in terms of zoning, policy or spending on operations. Chennai builds and repairs civic infrastructure – if they do it smarter, benefits can be linked. The idea is to create better cities by adding social capital to their projects,” summed up Berkowitz.
Six ‘discovery areas’ and challenges they face
- Water systems: Unavailability of infrastructure, Underinvestment
- Metro governance: Lack of customised decision-making systems
- Civic engagement: Lack of awareness among citizens, Citizen’s perception that their voice does not matter
- Service delivery to vulnerable and low-income groups: Lack of land security, Caste discrimination
- Healthy and planned urbanisation: Lack of integration between various bodies in planning, Short-term ‘quick fixes’
- Financing urban resilience: Lack of government experience in engaging the private sector, Limited ability of local governments to generate revenue