In 2014, Pittsburgh joined the ranks of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities network, and today Mayor Bill Peduto announced a strategy for resilience going forward, which will address the city’s “most pressing and interconnected challenges that weaken the fabric of the city on a day-to-day and long-term basis,” according to a press release.
Through the Rockefeller program, cities receive technical and funding support while formulating how to achieve sustainability goals and respond to the effects of climate change, such as extreme weather events. Several 100RC cities have been able to hire a chief resilience officer (as Chicago did last year). New Orleans and Berkeley, California, released new resilience plans in the last two years.
As many cities have done while considering “resilience,” Pittsburgh examined economic inequality while creating the new strategy.
“After losing 40 percent of its population between 1970 and 2006, Pittsburgh is growing again and getting stronger,” a document about the strategy states. “However, the Steel City must still overcome the stresses associated with its industrial legacy, while responding to ongoing pressures stemming from urbanization, globalization, and climate change. Persistent socioeconomic inequities, coupled with a history of fragmented governance and planning, continue to undercut resident quality of life and strain city resources.”
The Pittsburgh development provides a framework for evaluating the city’s priorities going forward, according to the document. As such, it doesn’t list many concrete actions yet — but it does identify a values system and outline stressors the city faces going forward, from climate change to aging infrastructure and economic and racial inequality.
“The Resilience Strategy puts into practice a basic principle – our city can only move forward if we move forward as one Pittsburgh,” Peduto, said, according to a release. “Through implementation of ONEPGH, we have an opportunity to not only show the strength of our resilient past, but help illustrate to other cities how to navigate their own 21st century challenges.”
When he named Boston’s chief resilience officer, Atyia Martin, in 2015, Mayor Marty Walsh did so with the intention of connecting income inequality, a lack of affordable housing, poverty and racism to disaster recovery.
Pittsburgh’s full strategy can be viewed here.
Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian.