Embracing Resilience as over-arching policy


After being selected to join the 100 Resilient Cities Global Network last year, the City of Vancouver appointed a Chief Resilience Officer in April with a mandate to integrate the City’s various emergent resilience strategies, in areas including emergency management, earthquake preparedness, local food and the healthy city strategy, into a comprehensive resilience strategy.

Potential Significance

The commitment to resilience as a planning framework, combined with the resources that come with membership in the 100 Resilient Cities network, will enable the City to invest in building up relationships with institutions and stakeholders across the city and region whose collaboration is critical in times of severe shocks and disruptions. An integrated planning system will be crucial to a coastal city as the impacts from climate change are expected to increase in severity.


100 Resilient Cities (100RC) Global Network is a $164 million initiative of the Rockefeller Foundation to bring together and support 100 cities around the world that in the vanguard of developing urban resilience strategies.  100RC supports the cities with financial and consulting assistance as well as the opportunity to collaborate with other cities.

Through its participation in the international network, the City will be able to access tools, funding technical expertise and other resources to build up the city’s resilience in the face of social, economic and environmental challenges. Under the program, the City was able to create the position of Chief Resilience Office to lead the development of a city-wide resilience strategy over a two-year period. Katie McPherson was appointed to the position in April, bringing to the position her experience with the City’s Office of Emergency Management and previous work in the private and non-profit sectors. A key part of her work will involve bringing together stakeholders within the City administration and in the public, private, non-profit and academic sectors to create a resilience assessment as the first step in the resilience strategy.

Through the 100RC program, Vancouver will have access to a suite of nearly 100 platform partners, providing expertise in a wide range of areas that includes diagnostic analysis, risk and hazard assessment, climate change, financial analysis, data management, resource and energy use, and social services and development. These and other services are available to support resilience priorities in the city. The focus on resilience looks at the City’s sustainability strategies, including Greenest City and Renewable City, to identify ways to ensure that the new systems have the capacity to endure and even thrive in the face of shocks and stresses, not only from natural disasters but also adverse socio-economic trends.

What is resilience?

As defined by 100RC, “urban resilience is the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow, no matter what kind of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience.”

  • Stresses are day-to-day or cyclical issues like affordable housing, crime, transportation, and social inequity.
  • Shocks are events like fires, floods, and earthquakes. Slower-force stresses can harm cities just as dramatically as one-off events.

By looking at shocks and stresses together, and planning for them as a whole, the 100RC partnership aims to assist cities in increasing their governance, operational, and strategic capacity to: proactively address their vulnerabilities, learn from experiences, and adapt to change.

As a concept, resilience is complementary to the concept of sustainability. A system can be described as sustainable if it is in a state of equilibrium. Resilience is a measure of the system’s ability to rebound from a severe shock.


Prepared by: Elizabeth Ballantyne, Vancouver City Planning Commission Chronology Committee
Revised: Thursday, December 7, 2017