Tuesday, June 18, 2013

CRO -- Chief Resilience Officer

In a move that hopefully signifies a change in how foundations and donors view funding disaster initiatives, the Rockefeller Foundation is blazing a path forward with the creation of a $100 Million Dollar Global Disaster Preparedness Fund. At the center of the fund is the "100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge," a global grant program that essentially works to incentivize the integration of resilience into urban and disaster planning. Those who win a grant award will receive funding for a "Chief Resilience Officer," an individual who will be responsible for oversight and implementation of the city's master recovery plan.

Beyond the initial PR splash, there are few details on the application / nomination process at this time, but will be something I watch for updates on given the questions an initiative of this nature raises. Since many cities already have robust preparedness plans in place, seeing how this position will integrate with those existing plans and where the position will sit within the Emergency Management hierarchy could be telling of how effective it will be. Will this position create another layer of planning and procedural bureaucracy that cities have to wade through, or will the Resilience Officer have the authority to begin to make sweeping changes to how cities define and enact resilience in the face of disasters? While much of the authority will most likely be derived from how and where the dollars are to be spent, it will be interesting to learn how the position is to be integrated in with the existing HR frameworks.

While I imagine cities are excited at the prospect of supplemental dollars in their preparedness coffers in light of dwindling federal money to support their efforts, non-profits should be equally excited or at the very least encouraged by this move. The quest for consistent funding for disaster-focused non-profits is all consuming and the results are often weak given the reluctance of foundations (public and private) to fund response activities...let alone general ops to keep the doors open.

The reason the creation of this fund with Rockefeller backing is so important, is because of the momentum and acceptance it will hopefully generate throughout the donor community when approached with opportunities to fund disaster initiatives. For the same reasons no one likes to go first for anything are the same reasons no one wants to be the first to fund something new.  

I'm hopeful that with the creation of this $100 million fund and the coverage it will generate, that mindsets will shift and the foundation world will recognize the importance of funding non-profit disaster-related initiatives associated with preparedness/response/recovery.

Shifts in mindsets move at a glacial pace when dollars aren't involved and a move of the type I would like to see happen would entail a lot of money, as a result, I don't see any radical changes happening anytime soon…but the creation of this fund is the first step in the right direction.

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