Zurich North America and the Z Zurich Foundation team up with Resilient Cities Network to help protect vulnerable communities from the impacts of climate change.
SCHAUMBURG, Ill., October 12, 2021 – Zurich North America, the Z Zurich Foundation and Resilient Cities Network have teamed up to create a multi-year program designed to strengthen climate resilience and help address social inequities in vulnerable communities in Houston and Boston.
The Z Zurich Foundation has committed $3 million to the program. Resilient Cities Network, which brings more than 10 years of urban resilience experience and a strong connection to cities through its network of Chief Resilience Officers, will identify neighborhoods, convene community and government partners, and deploy its Resilience Community Impact Fund to catalyze direct investment into projects. A cornerstone of the program will be the adaptation of the Zurich Flood Resilience Measurement for Communities diagnostic tool.
The program will initially work in highlighted neighborhoods of Houston and Boston, seeking to develop actions and implement projects that address climate risks, social inequities and resilience. The effort will begin by providing city practitioners and stakeholders diagnostic support on analysis of the challenges, community engagement tools and project implementation resources, before identifying appropriate solutions. Through this program, cities will engage with peer cities facing similar climate-related challenges, strengthen ties to private sector stakeholders, and receive technical assistance on analytical tools.
The investment is designed to deliver direct impact to the most vulnerable urban communities. The program is expected to attract additional funding and generate policy support, which together will amplify successful, resilience-building projects. While the initial focus is on Houston and Boston, the program will expand to scale best practices in other cities, thereby building urban resilience throughout the United States.
“This initiative will enable us not only to address climate change adaptation challenges, but also to engage with and impact underserved communities,” said Kristof Terryn, CEO of Zurich North America. “Prioritizing resilience building actions for the most vulnerable populations will contribute to a more equitable future within and across communities.”
“The City of Houston can benefit tremendously from this program to strengthen our resilience to climate change through an equity lens,” said Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, Chairman of Resilient Cities Network. “I have seen too many times in our city, having managed six federally declared disasters in five years, communities of color are disproportionately harmed by emergencies. Issues of racial equity compound the impacts of other crises, greatly reducing a city’s ability to become resilient. Cities that are repeatedly having to respond to the needs of vulnerable populations remain unable to truly recover before another shock hits.”
“This program is a unique opportunity to tackle the complex and interrelated challenges brought on by multiple, cascading climate-related concerns,” said Lauren Sorkin, Executive Director, Resilient Cities Network. “Singular organizations and siloed approaches to confront crises don’t stand a chance. But, if we can unleash the predicative, hazard and impact models from Zurich together with the connective, inclusive capacities of the Resilient Cities Network, we’ll be able to more effectively target solutions.”
Gregory Renand, Head of the Z Zurich Foundation, said, “The combination of the Z Zurich Foundation’s climate resilience analysis methodology and experiences and Resilient Cities Network connections to Houston, Boston and other cities gives us a great opportunity to help deliver actions on the ground that enable people to cope with the challenges of climate change. We hope that developing these innovative plans will also serve as a catalyst for others to join and help scale the solutions.”
“Magic happens when the insurance industry combines forces with resilience practitioners,” said Daniel Stander, Deputy Chair of the Resilient Cities Network Board. “Cities need to leverage private sector know-how and balance sheets—both to finance the projects that will reduce climate impacts and to smooth the volatility of residual losses. Deep partnership is essential to ensure a resilient, equitable future. This is a ground-breaking partnership.”
Additional details about the North America Climate Resilience Program are available online at: https://resilientcitiesnetwork.org/programs/north-america-climate-resilience-program/.
About Z Zurich Foundation
The Z Zurich Foundation works alongside Zurich Insurance Group employees and other stakeholders as well as with governments and NGOs in pursuit of a future where people can thrive in the face of increasing climate hazards, where those of us feeling the stresses of life are empowered to speak up, and where the marginalized in our society can reach their full potential.
The Z Zurich Foundation is a Swiss-based charitable foundation established by members of the Zurich Insurance Group. It is the main vehicle by which Zurich Insurance Group delivers on its global community investment strategy.
About Resilient Cities Network
Resilient Cities Network is a global city-led non-profit organization that brings together knowledge, practice, partnerships, and funding to empower cities to help them build a safe, equitable, and sustainable future for all. The Network integrates the combined effort of urban practitioners, city governments, and communities in a collective, comprehensive, and well-coordinated call-to-action to deliver urban, impact-driven resilience solutions.
David Hilgen, Zurich North America
Nikki Rudnick, Resilient Cities
Manon Parmentier, Z Zurich Foundation