Weathering the Storm with
Resilience and Innovation
In 2019, the world witnessed some extreme
weather events that were striking in their severity
and scale: a record-breaking heatwave in Europe,
drought in Africa, catastrophic wildfires in the
Amazon rainforest, and widespread floods in
India, among others.
The first half of 2020 has been equally
tumultuous. The year began with devastating
wildfires in Australia, followed by the COVID-19
pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement
for social justice that have disrupted life in cities
across the world.
Whether the challenges relate to the environment,
public health or black swans yet to emerge,
it’s clear that change is the only constant. How
can we deal with such disruptions to our cities?
Resilience and adaptation, say leaders and
experts, are a key part of an effective response.
Judith Rodin discusses how cities can be flexible
in adapting to social, political and economic
disruptions, and how a systems approach can
make a big difference when dealing with crises
like the pandemic.
This is true of Singapore, whose urban
development journey has been a tale of resilience
and constant adaptation through urban systems
innovation. Teo Chee Hean shares how the city-
state is leveraging new opportunities to create
innovative, sustainable solutions to address its
While many cities are in uncharted waters as
they grapple with climate challenges, some have
useful ideas and solutions to share.
Eric Garcetti shows how long-term planning can
address both environmental challenges as well
as social justice, while Anies Baswedan has
made collaboration and community action the
key elements of his city’s climate action plan.
Instead of fighting nature, Yu Kongjian
demonstrates how to work with nature through
the clever use of sponge city principles.
Other forces can create both disruption and
opportunity. Robert Opp shares how the United
Nations Development Programme is tapping
technology and partnerships to make cities
adaptable, inclusive and sustainable.
As environmental challenges and the COVID-19
pandemic force us to reimagine our cities, we
hope this issue of Urban Solutions inspires
readers to stay resilient and to apply human
ingenuity in meeting the challenges and taking
advantage of the opportunities ahead. I wish you
all an enjoyable read.
Khoo Teng Chye
Centre for Liveable Cities