2016 Preparedness Summit Opening Plenary: Innovations in Community Resilience

slider_themeResilience – adaptation in the face of adversity – is often the difference between a community that can survive and thrive after a disaster, and one that struggles over years to recover. What does it take for communities to be resilient in a world of increasingly global and uncharted threats? This year’s Preparedness Summit will explore how health departments and their partners can work together to create a more prepared and resilient nation.

In 2013, the Rockefeller Foundation created 100 Resilient Cities – an organization dedicated to helping cities around the world build resilience to the social, economic, and physical challenges that are an increasing part of the 21st century. 100 Resilient Cities supports the adoption and incorporation of a view of resilience that goes beyond the shocks – earthquakes, fires, floods – but also other things that weaken cities, including overtaxed public transportation systems, endemic violence, and chronic food or water shortages. Their goal is to create cities that are better able to deliver basic functions to all populations, even during non-emergency times.

One year later, President Barack Obama recognized the need for investment in critical infrastructure and announced the National Disaster Resilience Competition, which will award nearly $1 billion to communities recovering from natural disasters to help them rebuild and increase their resilience to future disasters.

The National Disaster Resilience Competition supports innovative resilience projects at the local level, while also encouraging communities to adopt policy changes that plan for the impacts of future events.  $820 million was made available to all states and local governments that experienced a presidentially-declared major disaster in 2011, 2012, or 2013. Finalists competed in the second and final phase of the competition in late 2015. They were able to request up to $500 million for leading-edge projects that address unmet needs from past disasters while also addressing their vulnerabilities during future disasters. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will announce the winners early this year.

The Rockefeller Foundation and HUD are now working together to build a vision for resilient communities. Working in coordination with HUD, 100 Resilient Cities provides technical assistance and training workshops to every eligible state and local government. This support helps applicants consider future risks and vulnerabilities in planning and decision-making, and aids them in applying for HUD funding. While distinct, the two programs work together to help communities better understand their risks and identify ways in which they can protect the long-term well-being and safety of their residents.

Local, state, and federal public health organizations are a key piece of the resiliency puzzle. The 2016 Preparedness Summit’s opening plenary will explore public health’s integral role in making this goal of more resilient communities a reality. HUD’s Marion McFadden and 100 Resilient Cities’ Andrew Salkin will discuss their programs and public health’s vital place in the federal government’s community resilience efforts.

The Preparedness Summit is the first and longest-running national conference on public health preparedness. Since its beginning in 2006, the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) has taken a leadership role in convening a wide array of partners to participate in the Summit; presenting new research findings, sharing tools and resources, and providing a variety of opportunities for attendees to learn how to implement model practices that enhance the nation’s capabilities to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters and other emergencies. In 2015, the four-day annual event, brought more than 1,800 attendees to Atlanta, Georgia from nearly every state in the nation, as well as several territories and countries, including China and Australia.

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