I met with Mayors in the 100 Resilient Cities network on 1-4 October in Bellagio Italy to explore ways our cities can better respond to acute shocks like earthquakes and severe storms, as well as chronic stresses, such as ageing transport infrastructure and declining housing affordability.
Funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, 100 Resilient Cities is creating a global network of cities using the framework of "resilience" to build and share solutions. The network currently has 67 member cities that are home to over 130 million people. It will grow to 100 member cities this year.
Sydney joined the network in December 2014 and is working with other local councils and the state government on a resilience strategy for our metropolitan area.
Using funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, the project focuses on urban resilienceâ€”"the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience."
The 100 Resilient Cities Leaders' Summit was an opportunity for Mayors to share experience and knowledge, and build connections so that we can continue to cooperate on innovative solutions.
A common concern was homelessness and housing affordability, a growing problem for Sydney. Diverse housing and public transport are vital, especially for essential low-paid city workers forced into outlying suburbs. A response in many cities is to require minimum levels of affordable housing in new developments.
Cities such as Amman (Jordan), Athens (Greece) and Thessaloniki (Greece) face an acute humanitarian and political crisis due to waves of refugees and growing conflict, such as neo-nazi riots. I was personally struck by Amman's approach to treat refugees "as guests", despite 1.6 million refugees arriving in Jordan since 2010.
And cities that experienced acute shocksâ€”such as Christchurch's earthquake and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleansâ€”are showing how to build long-term resilience through practical solutions that meet multiple needs, such as flooding mitigation that also provides new parks and energy infrastructure that reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
While travelling I took the opportunity to stop over in other cities to seek out new ideas for Sydney. I spend a day in Milan in transit to Bellagio and a day in Dubai on my return to Sydney.
Like Sydney, Milan is Italy's economic engine room. I was struck by its walkable city centre, with light rail, underground metro and many stone-paved pedestrian-only precincts. Its streets were full of people enjoying shopping and outdoor dining. Bike riders and pedestrians shared the footpaths and public spaces without conflict.
In 2012 Milan introduced road pricing to manage congestion, with income invested in public transport, walking, cycling and policies to reduce air pollution. In the first year, the program provided over â‚¬13 million to increase metro and surface public transport services, and to expand the BikeMi bike hire scheme.