Jeff Hebert, New Orleans Chief Resilience Officer

New Orleans was one of the first cities to become part of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Network (RC100). Jeff Hebert talks about New Orleans’ efforts to ensure a more resilient future and the partnerships helping to build it.

Jeff Hebert, New Orleans Chief Resilience Officer 

Where is New Orleans overall in its efforts to improve resiliency?

Our Resilient New Orleans blueprint we released last year on the 10th anniversary of Katrina marks a shift from recovery to resilience. As the city approaches its 300th anniversary in 2018, we want to focus on preparing New Orleans for the stresses and challenges it will face in its next 300 years. Our risk transfer project with Veolia and Swiss Re is one of the plan’s 41 actions, 75% of which are underway

What are your expectations of this project?

We know from experience that the longer the downtime following a disaster, the more severe the impact on the city and on the ability of its people to recover. By understanding the risks to critical infrastructure assets like water systems, we’re identifying the resources and the thinking needed ahead of time to shorten the downtime and avoid significantly greater social and economic impacts after an event. The project’s analysis will enable us to make improvements that yield day-to-day benefits as well as helping both us and other cities around the world better prepare for future disasters.

Salle de supervision de l'usine de dépollution des eaux usées de la Nouvelle-Orléans

What is the private sector’s role in this approach?

Private sector partners play a key role in delivering services and operating infrastructure in many cities. They help us think through how we can better provide services and prepare our systems for the future. We can’t do everything alone. A city is a system in which people, businesses, institutions and government all play a role. As our mayor has noted, the best things that have been done since Katrina have been the work of the different levels of government working in partnership with NGOs and the private sector. This project is a great example of how we’re working together to try to anticipate and solve problems in order to ensure a brighter, more resilient future.