Notice of 2016 Financial Results

01 February 2016

Resilience has emerged in recent decades as one of the core words in the language that structures our era. Just like other often-used yet imprecisely defined notions – sustainability, smart and inclusive being three good examples – resilience is an ever-changing concept that is hard to pin down. The word first gained currency in scientific literature, specifically physics, as a term used to designate the resistance to impact of a material. The term was then extensively picked up by psychologists to describe a similar phenomenon: the capacity to recover after individual or collective trauma. Ecologists use the term to designate an ecosystem’s capacity to rebuild itself and restore its balance after being disturbed, as, for example, in the natural regeneration of a forest and its ecosystem after a fire. Used in this way, resilience describes not simply a capacity to resist, but also an ability to recover after a shock and return to a previous state. The notion is also used in the sociotechnical field (at the interface between engineering and social and human sciences) to designate a system’s capacity to adjust to unsettling events.


The past decade and a half has seen the term adopted outside purely scientific spheres, where it is now used to describe complex ecosystems such as cities. Resilience has become a big deal for cities, especially since the Rockefeller Foundation sponsored the emergence of the 100 Resilient Cities network in 2013, seeking to assist the world’s major cities to overcome the multiple shocks they might increasingly have to face. Michael Berkowitz, President of the 100 Resilient Cities program, defines resilience as “the capacity of a city to thrive in the face of shocks and stresses.”

Urban resilience is increasingly essential as the populations of the world’s cities continue to grow, with 70% of the global population being city-dwellers by 2050 according to the U.N.,1 and cities facing greater threats from natural disasters and unprecedented social tensions.

1. Urban resilience has become a pressing issue in the face of the multiplication of risks, particularly environmental

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2. Cities: decisive critical actors in resilience

Cities have rapidly emerged as key to exploring resilience, as they are at once partly responsible for the environmental crisis as well as being potential victims of disaster, particularly natural disasters, and the primary wellsprings of solutions.:

  • 60% As a result, the concept of resilience has recently been expanded to include the social dimension, such are the potentially unsustainable risks represented by the yawning wealth gap.
  • 60% Such are the potentially unsustainable risks represented by the yawning wealth gap.
  • 50% unsustainable risks represented by the yawning wealth gap

Eric Rigaud, research associate, Mines ParisTech PSL, CRC Extract from his presentation to the colloquium on Resilient Cities and Territories, September 2017

2.1. Urban pollution is the root of the environmental crisis

By the year 2050, two-thirds of humanity will live in a city.

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Mathilde Martin-Moreau

looking beyond risks to see opportunities offered by resilience

The notion of resilience is heard more and more frequently and is now part of the common parlance of city policymakers and managers. In a world characterized by environmental, economic and social phenomena of ever-increasing criticality, risk prevention and a culture of forward planning are key factors in ensuring that systems can resist and continue. Related to the notion of risk, urban resilience often surrounds issues of disaster prevention and management. But it should be thought of in terms of opportunities: to improve existing infrastructure, to invent new business models and to find new ways of collaborating between public, private and civil society actors, and to promote social ties in cities. Ultimately, urban resilience provides an array of new tools to help foster the emergence of the sustainable and enduring city of tomorrow.