Op-Ed

Together, we can make Greater Miami a resilient community

The work of building a more resilient Greater Miami & the Beaches fundamentally is about creating a bright future for all residents in Miami-Dade. As the first region selected to join the 100 Resilient Cities program — pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation — Miami-Dade County, the city of Miami Beach and the city of Miami, with support from our partners at The Miami Foundation, are driven by the understanding that we must work together to address the challenges of the 21st century. Climate change, aging infrastructure, economic inequities and other stresses do not respect jurisdictional boundaries — and neither should the strategies that can address them.

Two years on, and with two new mayors and several new commissioners in Miami and Miami Beach, we stand firm in our commitment to building a more resilient future for all those living in Greater Miami. This renewed pledge could not come at a more crucial time.

In our region, Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria provided the warning signs of what’s to come — testing the mettle and resilience of millions in the wake of those storms, and providing crucial lessons for our community. Another hurricane in South Florida is inevitable. But how we invest and prepare to ensure adequate preparation isn’t.

Acute shocks, such as last fall’s storms, tend to expose gaps in our social and physical infrastructure, such as lack of access to basic services, lack of mobility to evacuate, and power outages that kept many in the dark. Unless these underlying stresses are addressed, the more severe ones will always be more destructive and recovery from them longer and more expensive. Fundamentally, resilience is about approaching both realities — shocks and stresses — simultaneously.

The early work of our chief resilience officers (CRO) has helped instill a mindset that our shared success lies in finding efficient solutions and investments that target both. By forming policies and designing interventions that address them at once, we’ll reap a resilience dividend — extracting more than a singular outcome for every investment we make.

To create these types of interventions, our resilience offices have engaged with thousands of residents in Greater Miami, with more input and consultation to come in the year ahead. From community meetings in Little Havana, to focus groups in Miami Beach, to agricultural boards in the Redland, this collaborative process ensures that the region’s wide variety of voices and concerns are reflected and integrated into design and implementation. Through this kind of inclusive mapping of priorities and visions for the future, our CROs have laid the foundation for the work we must continue to do.

Within a year, Greater Miami and the Beaches will have one of the first regional resilience strategies on the planet. The early stages of this effort already have provided valuable lessons that will shape our work, in Southeast Florida, and hopefully across the nation, namely: that we need to accept water as a permanent feature of our urban landscape; promote livable communities; build an economy that works for all; protect citizens from crime and violence, but also from pandemics, like Zika; and bounce back quickly after inevitable shocks — like hurricanes. And finally, to achieve all of this, we must continue to collaborate and tackle these challenges collectively.

The work of building a more resilient Greater Miami transcends administrations and municipal borders. It is fundamentally about the future we envision for all residents in Miami-Dade. And each of us as mayors will continue these commitments — together.

Carlos Gimenez is mayor of Miami-Dade County. Francis Suarez is mayor of the city of Miami. Dan Gelber is mayor of the city of Miami Beach.

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