The new mayors of Miami and Miami Beach received updates Monday on their cities' participation in the 100 Resilient Cities program to address present and future livability challenges in Greater Miami and the Beaches.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber met with Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and leaders from 100 Resilient Cities to discuss their cities' participation in the Rockefeller Foundation-funded initiative. The international program helps communities address chronic livability challenges like high housing costs and sunny-day flooding, and mitigate damage from shocks like hurricanes.
It's about more than climate change and sea level rise, leaders emphasize.
"Take Katrina in New Orleans," Michael Berkowitz, the president of 100 Resilient Cities, told a roomful of journalists and elected officials after a closed-door meeting with the mayors and their resilience officers. "Katrina's impact was as much about the quality of transportation in the neighborhood ... public health, how the city’s institutions served the poorest and the most vulnerable neighborhoods. All of those things — which are not necessarily climate impacts — made Katrina the disaster that that storm was."
Miami, Miami Beach and Miami-Dade County have been participating in 100 Resilient Cities for about a year and a half. Speaking the Monday after a regional resilience summit involving leaders from Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties, Suarez and Gelber said they're excited to be on board with a program that aims to work across city and county departments and involves the public’s input.
"We’re not waiting for someone to come in and rescue us," Gelber said.
The mayors also emphasized the importance of collaboration among themselves and the other cities in Miami-Dade County. Greater Miami and the Beaches is unique in the 1o0 Resilient Cities program because it's a multi-municipality collaboration rather than a single city.
"That really shows our interdependency and our ability and our willingness to work together," Suarez said. He described the region's livability challenges as an existential and economic threat that could be compounded if "we're not speaking with one voice and acting proactively."
Greater Miami and the Beaches recently released a preliminary assessment of resilience assets and challenges. The municipalities' resilience officers say they expect to release a long-term resilience plan in about a year.