Zurich North America, the Z Zurich Foundation and Resilient Cities Network have announced a collaboration 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 will identify neighborhoods, convene community and government partners, and use its Resilience Community Impact Fund to catalyze direct investment into projects, Zurich said. A key part of the program will be the adaptation of the Zurich Flood Resilience Measurement for Communities tool.
The program will initially work in vulnerable neighborhoods in Houston and Boston, with the aim of developing actions and implementing projects to address climate risk, social inequity and resilience. It will begin by providing diagnostic support on the analysis of the neighborhoods’ challenges, community engagement tools and project implementation resources, before identifying appropriate solutions.
The investment is designed to provide a positive, direct impact to the most vulnerable urban communities. While the initial focus is on Houston and Boston, the program will expand to scale best practices in other cities, Zurich said.
“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 of Resilient Cities Network. “Singular organizations and siloed approaches to confronting crises don’t stand a chance. But if we can unleash the predictive 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.”
“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,” said Gregory Renand, head of the Z Zurich Foundation. “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.”