Sint Maarten becoming a Resilient Island City of the Future
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Sint Maarten becoming a Resilient Island City of the Future

PHILIPSBURG - 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation (100RC), is dedicated to helping cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century.

With the New Year 2015 just around the corner, the people and Sint Maarten as a country needs some positive developments to look forward to in 2015. Things that we as a community can contribute in one way or the other based on a national effort with a vision for 2015.  We should not allow the New Year to open on a pessimistic note, but on a note of optimism, because the future is ours for us to shape accordingly.  We are an island of the future and we must build resilience in a changing world.

Sint Maarten people have shown resilience time and time again.  We are a unique and determined people.

Country Sint Maarten could be referred to as the ‘Island City of Sint Maarten’ since everything is located so densely together.  There are other countries in the world that are referred to as city-states, and our country could fit into the same category.

What is one of the things that we could look for too in starting to build in 2015?  What about becoming one of the 100 resilient cities pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation? (100RC)

100RC supports the adoption and incorporation of a view that includes not just the shocks, earthquakes, fires, floods, etc., but also the stresses that weaken the fabric of a city on a day to day or cyclical basis.  Some of these stresses include high unemployment, over taxation, inefficiencies, endemic violence, or chronic water and food shortages.

According to 100RC, by addressing both the shocks and the stresses, a city becomes more able to respond to adverse events, and is overall better able to deliver basic functions in both good times and bad, to its entire population.

Cities in the 100RC network are provided with the resources necessary to develop a roadmap to resilience along four main pathways: 1. Financial and logistical guidance for establishing an innovative new position in ‘city’ government, a “Chief Resilience Officer,” who will lead the city’s resilience efforts; 2. Expert support for development of a robust resilience strategy; 3. Access to solutions, service providers, and partners from the private, public and Non-Governmental Organization (NGOs) sectors who can help them develop and implement their resilience strategies; and 4. Membership of a global network of member cities who ca learn from and help each other.

Through the aforementioned actions, 100RC aims not only to help individual cities become more resilient, but will facilitate the building of a global practice of resilience among governments, NGOs, the private sector, and individual citizens.

100RC began working with its first group of 32 cities in December 2013.  The first Caribbean country to be a part of 100RC is the city of Santiago de Los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, that was selected in 2013.

In 2014, the group received 330 applications from 94 countries for the second cohort.  35 new member cities were selected with San Juan, Puerto Rico being one of the selectee cities in the Caribbean. The next round of the 100 Resilient Cities Challenge is set to open in 2015.  Will we be up for it in 2015?

Selected cities receive funding to hire a Chief Resilience Officer; assistance in developing a resilience strategy; access to a platform of innovative private and public sector tools to help design and implement that strategy; and membership in the 100 Resilient Cities Network.  

The Rockefeller Foundation has committed US$100 million to the 100 Resilient Cities project with the 100 winners in the end becoming models for other cities around the world. 

Our country is surrounded by the deep blue Atlantic Ocean on one side the Caribbean Sea on the other.  Small Island Developing States (SIDS) such as ours are particularly vulnerable to natural disasters.  Global climate change is expected to increase natural disasters, such as hurricanes, floods and drought. 

In addition, to climate change, population growth and urban development are increasing the vulnerability of SIDS to natural disasters, particularly in urban and coastal areas.  Country Sint Maarten has seen and experienced most recently the damages caused by Hurricane Gonzalo in October and the inclement weather of heavy persistent rain that flooded homes in Philipsburg and surrounding environs back in November.

Country Sint Maarten has nothing to lose by becoming one of the 100 Resilient Cities Network in 2015, but more to gain. (Commentary - Roddy Heyliger)

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