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Bristol appoints first Resilience Officer

Bristol’s ability to plan, respond and bounce back from shocks and stresses is taking a step forward with the appointment of a Strategic Resilience Officer (SRO).

Experienced Civil Engineer Sarah Toy joins Bristol City Council this February as part of a global network of similar officers who share best practice in preparing comprehensive resilience plans for their cities and regions. This new post comes as a direct result of Bristol’s membership of the global network of 100 Resilient Cities, a £100m global project run by the Rockefeller Foundation in the USA. The foundation funds Ms Toy’s post and as a member city Bristol can tap into funding and expertise to help it develop a Resilience Plan for Bristol and the wider West of England.

Sarah’s role will see her working with council leaders, community and business representatives and a wide range of agencies across Bristol and the city region. She will work with these stakeholders to develop a shared vision and an implementation plan to make Bristol more resilient to potential shocks and stresses such as flooding and health and wealth inequalities.

The resilience plan will ensure that city policies, projects and initiatives are focused on strengthening the city’s infrastructure and emergency and plans. It will also focus on building capacity within local communities so they can cope with adverse, unforeseen events and protect the most vulnerable people as well as dealing with ongoing stresses such as social and economic issues.

“Resilience planning is about making Bristol a better place to live, work and play for everyone, in both good times and bad.” explains Sarah. “As well as a focus on future-proofing Bristol’s city systems to ensure we have secure food and energy supplies, good public health and social and economic security we will be working with other cities across the 100 Resilient Cities network including Glasgow and London to share ideas and learning about how to create thriving urban communities where people help and support each other no matter what.”

“This is a fantastic opportunity to contribute to making Bristol one of the best places to live in the world and I am proud and excited to be Bristol’s first Strategic Resilience Officer.”

Sarah brings with her 25 years’ experience working across a range of projects designed to improve public health, wellbeing and infrastructure. As well as substantial experience working with global engineering firm Arup, most recently Sarah has been working with sustainable transport charity Sustrans.

Bristol was one of only two UK cities to join the 100 Resilient Cities network in December 2013 following a successful bid which saw 400 cities across six continents compete for membership.

As well as funding for the SRO post, Bristol’s membership in the network gives it access to resources for drafting a resilience building strategy; access to private sector, public sector, and NGO created resilience tools; and membership in a global network of peer cities to share best practices and challenges.

Mayor George Ferguson and Dr Judith Rodin, President of The Rockefeller Foundation, announced Ms Toy’s appointment at Bordeaux Quay restaurant during a visit by Dr Rodin to the UK on Friday 16th January.

Mayor George Ferguson said, “One of the biggest challenges facing cities today is that no single organisation has complete control over the solutions to increase our resilience to the broad range of challenges we face. By being part of the 100 Resilient Cities Network we can work with our peer cities around the globe to design resilience plans that will enable Bristol to respond to the many physical and social problems and opportunities the world can throw at us. We can also exchange experiences with the best in the world on how to create technical, societal and financial ways to be more resilient.”

Dr Judith Rodin, President of The Rockefeller Foundation, said: “In a rapidly urbanizing world, cities cannot afford to remain crisis-driven and reactive. Cities like Bristol are at the forefront of fostering a resilience mindset that will be critical to proactively managing the inevitable challenges, shocks and stresses all cities will face.”

Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities, said: “Sarah joins a network of peers from cities across the globe that will share best practices and surface innovative thinking. Sarah will become a global leader in resilience, and will be a tool both for Bristol and other cities around the world.”

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