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Mayor Walsh announces partnership with transatlantic policy lab for city of Boston's resilience strategy

October 29, 2015

 Today, Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced in collaboration with 100 Resilient Cities - Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) that the Transatlantic Policy Lab (TAPL) will convene a social equity lab in Boston to assess the ways inequalities in income and opportunity affect Boston's shared resilience and develop policy recommendations to reduce these inequalities.   

"Every resident of Boston should have access to the wealth of opportunities in this city every day so we can remain competitive and be able to thrive in the face of an emergency," said Mayor Walsh. "This study will provide vital assessments of our equity gaps to help reduce the impact of potential threats on our communities, and I'm looking forward to reviewing the results and taking the next steps towards becoming an even stronger city, for ourselves and our children."  

Boston is one of only two cities worldwide, along with Athens, Greece, to be selected as pilot sites for the TAPL's work with 100RC. The TAPL will convene 16 experts from the United States and the European Union to work in conjunction with the host cities in efforts to reduce income inequality and inequality of opportunity. This process will be conducted in close cooperation with members of the Walsh Administration, with input from the local community being an integral role in the process.

The TAPL social equity lab is provided to the City of Boston by the 100RC as part of their Platform of Partners. The 100RC Platform consists of private sector, public sector, academic, governmental, and non-profit partners who provide access to important resilience-building resources at no direct cost to the 100RC member cities. The TAPL, established by the Bertelsmann Foundation in collaboration with the Open Society Foundations and the German Marshall Fund of the United States, has been engaged as one of 100RC's platform partners.  

As part of the social equity lab, the TAPL will review existing research on Boston's equity gaps and engage community partners, residents, and City agencies to develop policy recommendations that will be incorporated into Boston's Resilience Strategy. The Resilience Strategy will support Boston's ability to become more prepared for, able to withstand, and bounce back from the 'shocks' -- catastrophic events like floods, infrastructure failure and acts of terrorism -- and 'stresses' -- slow-moving disasters like persistent racial and economic inequality, lack of affordable housing and unemployment -- which are increasingly part of 21st century life.  

The social equity lab is part of an ongoing effort led by Mayor Walsh's newly appointed Chief Resilience Officer, Dr. Atyia Martin, who is overseeing the development and implementation of a comprehensive Resilience Strategy for the City. In just over seven weeks, Dr. Martin has held over 50 meetings with community and faith-based organizations, City agencies, and business groups to set for the stage for Boston's Resilience Strategy Launch, which officially began on October 28th in partnership with 100RC and with support from HR&A Advisors, Inc.  

"Boston faces equity challenges, like many cities worldwide, and this process is an important part of ensuring we continue to grow as a thriving, healthy and innovative city," said Dr. Martin. "Assessing our resilience is necessary to meet Mayor Walsh's goal for a socially and economically healthy city, from the bottom-up. I'm excited to partner with the Transatlantic Policy Lab and 100RC to make this possible."

"Partnerships like the one between Boston and the Transatlantic Policy Lab are a crucial component of 100 Resilient Cities' offering to member cities," said Liz Yee, Vice President, Strategic Partnerships and Solutions at 100 Resilient Cities. "We're proud to provide best-in-class tools and services to foster resilience building efforts at no direct cost to our member cities, and excited to leverage the solutions and learnings from this engagement to identify where these approaches can be scaled to address similar challenges in other cities, and encourage the market to develop solutions where there are existing gaps."  

The social equity lab complements Boston's overall resilience initiative, which includes a unique focus on social resilience in a city affected by historic and persistent divisions of race and class. As part of this initiative, Dr. Martin will support all of Boston's major planning efforts, working across City departments and with external stakeholders, and has been particularly tasked with fostering a citywide dialogue on the root causes of Boston's divisions and inequities, helping the city to unite and build collective capacity for change. The two-year position is fully funded through 100RC.  

About 100 Resilient Cities - Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation 100 Resilient Cities - Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) helps cities around the world become more resilient to social, economic, and physical challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. 100RC provides this assistance through: funding for a Chief Resilience Officer in each of our cities who will lead the resilience efforts; resources for drafting a resilience strategy; access to private sector, public sector, academic, and NGO resilience tools; and membership in a global network of peer cities to share best practices and challenges. 100RC currently has 67 member cities. For more information, visit: www.100ResilientCities.org.  

100RC recently launched the third and final round of the 100 Resilient Cities challenge, where cities can apply to become part of the final cohort of cities in the global network of 100 cities. For application information, visit: www.100ResilientCities.org/challenge.