Letter from David Jácome Polit, Chief Resilience Officer of Quito – March 2017

Dear ICLEI friends and colleagues,

We live in a highly dynamic world. Along with our changing climate, social, technological, economic, demographic and ecological conditions are evolving, often at record pace. Resilience thinking is essential to understanding these forces and finding solutions for their effects.

The Municipality of Quito has begun to make major transformations using this kind of resilience lens, adding to efforts like our climate change adaptation strategy, successfully implemented since 2010. However, the city still struggles with stresses that affect the quality of life of all “Quiteños” – as we call people from Quito – such as poor mobility, social disengagement and lack of employment opportunity, as well as the threat of acute shocks like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Conventional planning no longer suffices to develop meaningful and sustainable solutions. The city’s 21st century challenges require more holistic, innovative and effective measures.

In order to do develop this kind of true resilience, Quito – with the support of 100 Resilient Cities – is developing a strategy with initiatives grounded in a true understating of the strengths and weaknesses of the city’s various social, economic and environmental elements.

As part of its resilience planning, Quito is constructing its first metro line. This new mode of transportation will help reduce landslides, by ensuring the construction of buildings and affordable housing in safe areas with services and infrastructure that are prepared to absorb more people.

With the construction of the first metro line, Quito will not only improve its resilience, but also reduce carbon emissions and become a more inclusive city. This metro line will help catalyzing innovative urban development that departs from the urban sprawl that has characterized the city’s growth.

Quito’s resilience plans also take advantage of the city’s “demographic bonus” through the development of a competitive labor market and investment hub. The plans also envision greater development of urban farming as a mechanism to spur local economic and social development, food security, poverty reduction and soil restoration.

Through these kinds of short- and long-term initiatives, the city will become stronger overall, able to endure, survive, and thrive, even when the larger disasters do occur.

The  Resilient Cities 2017 congress taking place from 4-6 May2017 in Bonn, Germany, is an important opportunity for a dialogue about these issues. It is a key platform for expanding a global network of resilience practitioners building more sustainable and resilient cities ready to face 21st century risks and challenges.

Hope to see you there!

David Jácome Polit, Chief Resilience Officer, Quito, Ecuador