On Aug. 25, New Orleans unveiled a new resilience strategy that calls for, among many actionable steps, the development of a comprehensive stormwater management program. The strategy, Resilient New Orleans, is a joint effort between the city and an organization called 100 Resilient Cities, which was pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation. The strategy proposes 41 actions to build citywide resilience. The strategy will help New Orleans become a more equitable, adaptable, and prosperous place for its residents.
100 Resilient Cities currently works with a network of cities worldwide to prepare for and bounce back from physical, social, and economic challenges. In addition to funding a Chief Resilience Officer position, 100 Resilient Cities provides cities with partnerships in the private, public, academic, and nonprofit sectors to implement ideas from resilience strategies.
The New Orleans strategy comes with more than $1 million in commitments for implementation from 100 Resilient Cities’ partners in both the public and private sectors, as well as additional commitments from other local and national philanthropic organizations. As New Orleans implements the strategy, it also will have access to $100 million worth of tools and services from the 100 Resilient Cities network.
Through a partnership among New Orleans and national and international experts — including Greater New Orleans Inc., Greater New Orleans Foundation, Trust for Public Land, and the Dutch water management firm, Deltares — the city will implement a comprehensive stormwater management program. This effort will complement the traditional engineered drainage systems of pipes and pumps with green infrastructure that delays and detains stormwater in landscaped spaces.
The strategy also will establish in New Orleans one of the world’s few Resilience Centers.The center will serve as a hub for resilience innovation and leadership development.
“As we commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we are pivoting from recovery to resilience to provide a better future for the next generation,” said Jeff Hebert, New Orleans Chief Resilience Officer. “Because the challenges we have faced over the past three centuries are different from what we’ll face in the future, we need to be prepared to stand up to these challenges in order to thrive in the centuries to come.”
Recovery efforts in the years following Hurricane Katrina and The Rockefeller Foundation’s leadership in spearheading the Unified New Orleans Recovery Plan (UNOP) helped inspire the global 100 Resilient Cities Challenge, which launched in 2013. With a focus on flood protection, affordable housing, public services, and state-of-the-art education and health care systems in New Orleans, UNOP was a single, cohesive plan that enabled the city to access federal recovery funding and focus on long-term resilience-building activities. Its success became a model for The Rockefeller Foundation’s global resilience efforts and illuminated New Orleans as a living laboratory for resilience thinking and planning.
New Orleans has made great strides in water infrastructure in the 10 years since Hurricane Katrina and the ensuing floods so damaged the city. The article, “New Orleans Rising,” in the September 2015 issue of Water Environment & Technology magazine details both the region’s upgrades to existing flood defenses and a new way of thinking about stormwater in general.
“New Orleans is defined by its proximity to water,” according to the article. And now “a new focus on the use of green infrastructure solutions has begun to emerge, offering potential solutions to such chronic problems in New Orleans as street flooding, subsidence, and urban blight.”