Oakland has earthquakes, droughts and a host of other resilience problems to tackle. Now it has a Chief Resilience Officer to lead the charge.
Today, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan and Michael Berkowitz, president of The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative, will jointly announce that Victoria Salinas has been tapped as the city’s first Chief Resilience Officer, a position being created in other cities across the world, as well.
Salinas works with the Disaster Risk Management Team at The World Bank, and has previously held posts at FEMA, the State Department and the United Nations Development Programme. As Oakland’s CRO, she’ll lead the city’s efforts to prepare for and respond to a number of challenges, from executing earthquake retrofits for 24,000 at-risk multi-family housing units to developing long-term strategies for protecting the city from sea-level rise and intensifying storms. She will also implement Oakland’s Energy and Climate Action Plan, which was adopted by the city council in December 2012.
Salinas joins a growing international team of CROs being hired with Rockefeller’s assistance. Cities that have already put CROs in place include Christchurch, New Zealand; Boulder, Colorado; Dakar, Senegal; Norfolk, Virginia; and Medellin, Colombia. Although the positions have only existed for a few months, several of the cities are already identifying their biggest resilience challenges, prioritizing them and mapping out the resources they have to deal with them.
They’re also sharing ideas, a key benefit of having a single resilience point-person in each city. For instance, the CROs of Medellin and San Francisco have been discussing ways to deal with seismic threats. Norfolk’s CRO has established a “resilience garage” for testing the mechanics of potential solutions. The CRO of Byblos created the Middle’s East’s first Office of Resilience.
The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative has so far selected 32 cities to participate. Applications for the next round of cities are now available — the deadline to apply is September 10.
Will Doig was formerly Next City’s international editor. He's worked as a columnist at Salon, an editor at The Daily Beast, a lecturer at the New School, and a communications staffer at the Open Society Foundations. He is the author of High-Speed Empire: Chinese Expansion and the Future of Southeast Asia, published by Columbia Global Reports.