By Jai-Leen James, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – After six years, the Rockefeller Foundation will end its climate resilience program. 100 Resilient Cities is the largest privately funded climate-adaptation initiative in the United States. The announcement came Monday, April 1st without providing any reasoning for the termination.
The program was started in 2013 to help cities, including Miami, Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County, prepare and adapt to impending climate change. Rockefeller provided a $164 million grant for cities to hire chief resilience officers. Cities also had access to third party consultants that assisted in developing strategies to combat climate change.
The 100 Resilient Cities operates on six continents, in 47 countries and in 21 languages. According to the Rockefeller Foundation, member cities of 100 Resilient Cities have proposed 2,600 projects and initiatives. More than $3 billion has been allocated to implement the proposals. $1.22 billion was catalyzed in North America alone.
Since 1913, the Rockefeller Foundation’s mission has been to “promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world.” The most common issues addressed in the 100 Resilient Cities initiative were rainfall flooding, aging infrastructure, inadequate public transportation and lack of affordable housing.
The 100 Resilient Cities was created by former Rockefeller president Judith Rodin. She was succeeded in 2017 by Doctor Rajiv Shah. Shah managed the U.S. Agency for International Development during the Obama administration.
The Atlantic Council is a nonprofit that focuses on global development. The foundation will provide a $30 million grant to establish a new climate and resilience office.
“I am immensely proud of the work achieved by 100 Resilient Cities to integrate resilience in cities and communities around the world,” Shah said in a press release. “The Foundation is committed to working with cities and CROs [Chief Resilience Officers] to ensure this work is institutionalized.”
An independent study conducted by the Urban Institute found that the program was “making important progress in helping urban areas around the world institutionalize and build resilience to w a wide range of shocks and stresses.”
The study was a mid-term report, evaluating the program five years in – thus, suggesting that 100 Resilient Cities still had another five years to go. The dissolution coincides with the reduction of environment efforts by the Trump administration.
To phase out 100 Resilient Cities, the Rockefeller Foundation is giving $12 million to ensure their financial commitment to member cities and needs are met. The 86 staff members of the organization were laid off. The program’s offices in New York City, London, Mexico City and Singapore are expected to close.
“We are looking forward to the next phase of resilience for our community and to working with The Atlantic Council’s Adrienne Arsht Center for Resilience,” said James Murley, Chief Resilience Officer of Miami-Dade County.
“We continue to build a culture of resilience in Miami-Dade County, secured by 100 Resilient Cities, and are developing solutions with our partners, including Miami Beach, the City of Miami and the Miami Foundation.”
The program will come to a full close this year on July 31st. Miami Beach still intends to release its Resilient 305 strategy in partnership with Miami and Miami-Dade County in May.