Medellín appoints first Chief Resilience Officer in Rockefeller Foundation's "100 Resilient Cities" initiative

Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, and Mayor Aníbal Gaviria Correa of Medellín announced this morning the appointment of Santiago Uribe Rocha as Chief Resilience Officer (CRO) of the city of Medellín — making him one of the world's first CROs, and making Medellín the first city in the Rockefeller Foundation's "100 Resilient Cities" initiative to appoint someone to this role.

Speaking to the press at the World Urban Forum 7 conference, held this year in Medellín, Rodin spotlighted the innovations undertaken by the city. "Medellín has shown that a city can overcome its past by preparing for its future," Rodin said. In addition, Rodin continued, "I want to recognize the mayor of Medellín," describing Mayor Gaviria as an innovator and leader who makes "the quick and the hard decisions that need to be made."

The selection of a Chief Resilience Officer — who will work "across silos, including work with both formal and informal leadership," said Rodin — is the first of several steps for Medellín as a member of the 100 Resilient Cities initiative. It will be followed by the development of "an overall resilience strategy," supported by the Rockefeller Foundation, for which an initial session was held in Medellín at the end of January. As a member of the initiative, the city will then have access to "a great platform of services" integrating big data analysis and other technologies, land use planning and infrastructure design, new financing mechanisms, and other elements. Member cities will also be able to share knowledge and best practices and cultivate new connections with other member cities.

"I want to emphasize how transcendent it is for Medellín to have this innovative initiative of the Rockefeller Foundation," Gaviria responded. Speaking "from the point of view of sustainability, but also that of equity," he stressed the need "to take the concept of resilience to a social and community level" as "a value that should be embedded in the culture, that should be cultivated and enhanced ... but that first must be recognized by citizens."

Gaviria also emphasized that the "100 Resilient Cities" initiative is about implementation, not just planning. "This pragmatism is reflected in the structure," he said, noting that "the CRO is a very important figure in this puzzle" whose presence "gives a guarantee that this issue is going to advance with the speed that everyone wants."

Introducing Uribe Rocha, Mayor Gaviria said, "I would like to highlight that it looks as if he has been preparing for this position for the past 10 or 15 years." Gaviria noted Uribe Rocha's training in anthropology, his deep involvement with the country of South Africa, and his extensive pragmatic involvement with environmental and social issues.

For his part, Uribe Rocha called his appointment "an opportunity to express to the world how Medellín has learned to become resilient" and to show that resilience is "a strategic attitude to life." "This is not a personal recognition, but a challenge we will all face together. I thank the mayor for the responsibility delegated to me today. Surely at the end of this path we will be able to say that we fulfilled this promise."

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