Lauren Sorkin, regional director, Asia Pacific of 100 Resilient Cities, a non-profit set up by The Rockefeller Foundation to help cities better withstand the physical, social and economic challenges of today, explained to Future Ready Singapore that sustainability addresses the need to bring the world into balance amidst the continued depletion of natural resources. On the other hand, resilience is about the "implementation of transformative actions that make systems endure and, more importantly, thrive in an imbalanced world".
There is therefore the need for cities to go beyond adopting coping strategies and focus on "implementing actions that truly transform our cities' ability to withstand whatever comes", she said. Furthermore, building resilient cities requires a new way of thinking about city planning, community engagement, disaster prevention and recovery and private-public collaboration.
How business can build better cities
Governments cannot go it alone. The innovation, resources and experience of the private sector is needed in order to build better cities.
"There is no resilience in a vacuum," Sorkin told Future Ready Singapore. "Cities can’t implement meaningful solutions if they don’t understand the needs of every stakeholder – be they corporations or communities."
These sentiments were clearly echoed at the Responsible Business Forum for Sustainable Development in Singapore last year. At a workshop focused solely on SDG 11 that Sorkin moderated, representatives from the public and private sectors exchanged ideas for how to build more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities.
Businesses themselves want to be involved when it comes to urban and long-term planning, said Huawei’s general manager, strategy and business consulting, Kriv Naicker. He said that a service and technology provider like Huawei is “heavily invested in enabling smart and sustainable cities” and keen to share its expertise as cities move towards being Internet of Things-enabled.
“Huawei is (usually) engaged at the point of the procurement rather than in an experience-sharing or advisory perspective on where we can help accelerate some timelines,” commented Naicker. The company has the potential to take on a more advisory role in terms of “informing some of the decisions” for infrastructure investment and planning and digital enablement, he said.
Governments should therefore review and change their current procurement models to allow businesses to provide their expert advice without compromising the integrity of the procurement process, urged Naicker.
Besides participating more actively at the urban planning level, businesses can also help cities become more resilient by collaborating and creating opportunities for shared learning with the government.
Singapore-headquartered real estate developer and a local leader in sustainability, City Developments Limited (CDL), offered “experience and knowledge” when the Building and Construction Authority in Singapore first began putting together the Green Mark certification programme for buildings.