This post is part of our live blog series from the Resilient Cities 2015 congress. For more live blogs, please click here.
One of the recurring subjects of a session on how three cities have been working within the USAID CRIS program to enhance resilience (especially towards sea-level rise and precipitation/drought extremes) was how to include the private sector in climate resilient urban planning. In order to conduct successful and integrated planning of this kind, taking the consequences of climate change into account, the panel members agreed that the private sector is a key stakeholder to coordinate with, or at least to communicate with.
Not only is company inclusion necessary in order to protect businesses as much as possible; it is also highly important to get them actively involved in a way that makes long-term planning easier by increasing the resource base with which to (for example) adapt infrastructure and raise awareness. Evadée Pèrez Sarraff, of Santo Domingo (the Dominican Republic), said:
Climate resilience plans are very difficult to include in financial planning. The private sector therefore needs to be the motor of climate finance. This perspective has allowed us to create very diverse and fruitful alliances.
Moreover, and as importantly, the same objectives need to be worked towards by turning business leaders into resilience leaders; by transforming them into transitioning spokespeople. Doing so is important everywhere, but especially in cities where politics are polarized and authorities often are replaced – Chakil Aboobacar, of Nacala (Mozambique), gave the following reason for this:
The people can regularly vote out or overturn governments, but cannot change the private sector as easily. Private sector executives stay in positions of power in the community for much longer, and can thus also effect leadership longer.
One of the key results from these three cities’ CRIS program experiences was the building of trust between stakeholders that was accomplished, including between local/national government entities and between government and the private sector. According to Rosario Chumacero Córdova, of Piura (Peru), it is unfortunately the case that:
In government we too often come up lacking in our ability and practice to ensure sufficient information exchange, both across sectors and within the public sector.
I agree. Exchanging and collectively producing risk scenarios and impact assessments with the private sector should therefore be priority areas for improvement – as long as private private sector funds are not over-emphasized, which may result in disappointments and uneven, unpredictable finance flows. Stabilizing our climate and protecting our wealth creation should be the responsibility of all of us.