GSD students and alums take on the urban resilience challenge

Mexico City was recently selected recently for the 1st phase of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge, and 6 students and alums from the GSD and HKS contributed to that success.

The Foundation launched the Challenge to address the increasingly complex problems of the 21st century and is seeking “cities that have demonstrated a dedicated commitment to building their own capacities to prepare for, withstand, and bounce back rapidly from future shocks and stresses.” Acting as the Agencia de Resiliencia Urbana – Urban Resilience Collective – Adriana Chávez (MDesS and MArch ’14), Víctor Rico Espínola (MAUD ’14), Oscar Malaspina (MAUD ’13), Elena Tudela (MAUD ’12), Einat Rosenkrantz (MAUD ’13) and Johanan Rivera (HKS MPAID ’13) approached Mexico City officials and learned they were in the process of registering for the competition. The team offered to collaborate.

To support the application, the Collective focussed on determining the major resilience challenges for Mexico City – climate change effects and seismic and other geologic activities – for different vulnerability zones, particularly high poverty areas. Twenty-seven million people live in the megalopolis and 27% do so in conditions of medium to high vulnerability to severe earthquakes and flooding. Benefitting from recent research on climate change and poverty conducted by Ministry of the Environment and the World Bank, the team developed a risk map of the metropolitan area. Consequently, in the words of the Foundation, “Mexico City is poised to transform its resilience plan from reaction to proactive planning and preparedness.”

Agencia de Resiliencia Urbana plans to carry its work forward by engaging and developing other projects addressing urban resilience. It has collaborated with Talara, Perú on its submission for the 100 Resilient Cities Challenge, and it hopes to be involved with other Latin American cities as well. For now, collective members look forward to participating in the refinement of the resilience plan for Mexico City.

Read more about the 100 Resilient Cities Challenge.