100 Resilient Cities

Rockefeller Foundation | 2013

The 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) initiative was pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation in 2013, as part of its Global Centennial Initiative. The initiative was built on a substantial investment from The Rockefeller Foundation, which enabled cities to hire a Chief Resilience Officer (CRO), develop a resilience strategy, access pro bono services from private sector and NGO partners, and share ideas, innovation and knowledge through the global network of CROs.

Over years of deep engagement with city leaders, communities and the private sector, this initiative enabled transformational change in cities through the support of resilience plans and early implementation of projects.

From our experience of creating resilience strategies in dozens of cities, we learned that using a resilience lens strategically to plan a portfolio of actions creates higher-impact projects that can benefit multiple sectors, particularly vulnerable communities.

Cities do not have enough support to articulate and develop their most innovative ideas

We also discovered a critical challenge: cities need more support to articulate and develop their most innovative ideas, or to turn these ideas into fully realized projects. This gap in the market prevents cities from delivering on their most urgent objectives and prevents funders from identifying pipelines of transformational projects.

In 2013, The Rockefeller Foundation pioneered 100 Resilient Cities to help more cities build resilience to the physical, social, and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. Cities in the 100RC network have been provided with the resources necessary to develop a roadmap to resilience along four main pathways:

  • Financial and logistical guidance for establishing an innovative new position in city government, a Chief Resilience Officer, who will lead the city’s resilience efforts;
  • Expert support for the development of a robust Resilience Strategy;
  • Access to solutions, service providers, and partners from the private, public and NGO sectors who can help them develop and implement their Resilience Strategies; and
  • Membership of a global network of member cities who can learn from and help each other.

To date, more than 1,000 cities have applied, and 100 cities have been selected, to join the Network—representing more than one-fifth of the world’s urban population. Currently, more than 50 holistic Resilience Strategies have been created. They have outlined over 1,800 concrete actions and initiatives. This has resulted in more than 150 collaborations between partners and cities to address city challenges, including $230 million of pledged support from platform partners and more than $655 million leveraged from national, philanthropic, and private sources to implement resilience projects.

In 2019, as the 100RC initiative came to a close, member cities and CROs spearheaded the next phase of the initiative, which led to its transition into the Resilient Cities Network (R-Cities). For over a year, more than 30% of our member cities and CROs participated in a broad co-design process to build the new phase of the urban resilience movement.  

With strong support from member cities, the network was officially launched in 2020 with a mission to reduce vulnerability and improve the well-being of over 220 million urban dwellers worldwide. We have a presence in nearly 100 cities and over 40 countries worldwide. 

This publication is part of Ecosystem City: Lessons from the Forest