Toronto has hired its first ever Chief Resilience Officer

Jun 16 2017, 8:44 pm

The City of Toronto has appointed its first ever Chief Resilience Officer (CRO).

The newly created position leads resilience-building efforts to help Toronto prepare for catastrophic events and urban stresses that are part of 21st century life, according to the City.

Toronto native Elliott Cappell has taken the position, coming from an international climate resilience background in over 20 countries. Cappell has served as head of climate change strategy, and has consulted for organizations like World Bank and the UN.

“Toronto is a diverse, dynamic and growing city,” said Cappell in a release. “I am thrilled to become the City’s first Chief Resilience Officer and am excited to begin working with City Council and staff, residents, businesses and community stakeholders on a strategic action plan for resilience.”

Cappell’s position is fully funded by 100 Resilient Cities – which helps cities around the world become more resilient to social, economic, and physical challenges by providing funding and resources. Toronto was selected from almost 1,000 cities that applied over the last several years to be part of 100 Resilient Cities (100RC).

“Toronto needs to be ready to meet unexpected challenges, such as the recent flooding caused by rising water levels in Lake Ontario, as well as the everyday stresses facing our growing city, including lack of affordable housing, overtaxed transit systems and the costs associated with aging infrastructures,” said Mayor John Tory in the release. “With his international work experience in climate change strategy and resilience principles, Elliott is the perfect person to guide the City’s participation in 100 Resilient Cities.”

Elliott Cappell/City of Toronto

Elliott will be reporting to City Manager Peter Wallace in a role that is meant to break down barriers in government and uncover some of the city’s major challenges when it comes to the changing environment. The CRO will have full access to tools and services provided by 100RC as part of his role.

“I anticipate that Elliott will play an invaluable role in the City’s efforts to ensure a strong and resilient future for Toronto,” said Wallace. “His work on urban development action plans and his understanding of climate change issues gives him a unique and informed perspective that will enrich Toronto’s resilience planning.”

According to the City, appointing a CRO was an essential element of Toronto’s resilience-building partnership with 100RC. The 100RC organization is part of a $164-million commitment by The Rockefeller Foundation to build urban resilience in 100 cities around the world.

“City governments are on the front line of dealing with acute shocks and chronic stresses. Toronto is part of a group of cities leading the way on resilience to better prepare for, withstand and recover more effectively when disruption hits,” said Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities. “Elliott joins a network of peers from cities across the globe that will share best practices and surface innovative thinking on urban resilience. He will become a global leader in the field, and will be an asset for Toronto and other cities around the world.”

Toronto’s Resilient City Action Plan will focus on social issues such as housing and transit and build on work already underway through Toronto’s climate resilience and TransformTO initiatives.

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