Council appoints Belfast’s first Commissioner for Resilience
9 Apr 2018
Belfast City Council has appointed its first Commissioner for Resilience; a new role that aims to help the city prepare for potential scenarios which could challenge the city’s ability to function and progress as a sustainable economy and good place to live.
Funded for two years by a grant from 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) - the Commissioner will work with Belfast City Council and its partners to build a comprehensive resilience strategy for Belfast, addressing major ‘shocks’ such as flooding, infrastructure failure and cyber-attack, and also addressing ongoing ‘stresses’ such as fragile aspects of the city’s economy, economic exclusion, segregation, health inequalities and climate change.
Belfast is the only city in Ireland - and one of only five in the UK - to have been selected from over 1,000 applicant cities to participate in the 100 Resilient Cities global network. The Rockefeller Foundation has invested more than $164 million in the initiative.
The new Commissioner, Grainia Long, who is leaving her current post as chief executive of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, believes the role presents a timely opportunity for Belfast to tap into a wealth of international expertise.
“The Belfast Agenda sets out a number of ambitious economic and social goals for the next 25 years, and by working with the 100RC Network, we can learn from many hard-won practical programmes and initiatives to ensure delivery of these goals,” she said.
“The role provides an opportunity to showcase on a global scale, Belfast’s story of growth and success as it has emerged from conflict. I’m excited to be working with Belfast City Council and its partners in the interests of the communities we serve.”
The Commissioner will be responsible for mobilising partners across diverse sectors including community, education, energy, health, housing and transport to create an urban resilience strategy and implementation plan over the next two years.
Ms Long continued: “Key to success is recognising that many of the challenges Belfast faces are interconnected; long term economic, environmental, social and political issues can’t be addressed in isolation. Part of my role is about highlighting these connections and bringing together organisations to see how they can work together to address them.”
Ms Long will be exploring these ideas in a keynote address at the British Council’s Peace and Beyond conference, at Titanic Belfast on April 11 – her first official engagement in her new role.
Lina Liakou, Regional Director for Europe and the Middle East at 100 Resilient Cities, added: “Belfast is helping fuel global momentum around building urban resilience, and leading by example along with its fellow UK members of the 100RC Network.”
Councillor Matt Garrett, chair of Belfast City Council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee said: “We are delighted to be working with the Rockefeller Foundation and excited about the potential of this programme to bring some truly cutting-edge thinking to our city.
“We’re in the process of implementing the Belfast Agenda while also finalising the Belfast Local Development Plan, so this is a really timely opportunity to take onboard factors which will make sure that our plans are robust.”