New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu has joined leaders of 20 other cities across the globe in pledging to dedicate 10 percent of the city’s budget to “resilience-building activities,” though exactly what that means remains vague.
The pledge is an offshoot of the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities project, aimed at encouraging municipalities to support policies and infrastructure that will allow their residents to weather disasters, reduce inequality and make communities more cohesive and engaged.
The foundation announced the 20 mayors’ pledges Wednesday on “Resilience Day” during the ongoing international conference on climate change in Paris.
While the New Orleans pledge would amount to a commitment of $60 million out of the $601 million budget the City Council passed Tuesday, it’s not clear whether the Landrieu administration will seek any changes to the budget over the coming year or how close officials believe they already are to that goal.
While the pledge refers to spending the money on “defined” activities to increase resiliency, the scope of that term and the range of programs that could be included under it are broad.
Indeed, a news release from the Rockefeller Foundation quotes Landrieu as taking an expansive view of what the pledge means.
“A resilient city must not only be prepared to address the environmental challenges that the world is facing, but also the longstanding, generational issues around crime, education and income inequality so that no one is left behind,” Landrieu said. “New Orleans is making great strides in this regard with major investments in job creation and workforce development, public safety, risk management and green infrastructure.”
Those programs already make up significant portions of the city’s budget.
Asked what projects the city was counting toward its goal and how much each costs, Landrieu spokesman Hayne Rainey pointed to the resiliency plan released by the administration in August.
That plan includes a mix of ongoing programs including NOLA for Life, aimed at reducing murders in the city, and Welcome Table New Orleans, which focuses on racial reconciliation; new initiatives such as a beefed-up regional transit system that would reach from New Orleans to the River Parishes; and long-term goals such as coastal restoration.
The 20 other cities that have signed onto the Rockefeller Foundation’s pledge include Paris; Mexico City; Rio de Janeiro; Athens; Amman, Jordan; and Rotterdam, Netherlands. In the United States, New Orleans is joined by Pittsburgh; Norfolk, Virginia; Oakland and Berkeley, California; and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The foundation described the effort as the most “ambitious commitment to building urban resilience in history” and said the combined pledges of the signatory cities amount to $5.2 billion.
Follow Jeff Adelson on Twitter, @jadelson.