City’s Gentilly Resilience District Recognized By International Think Tank Sustainia

NEW ORLEANS – The City of New Orleans has been recognized by renowned Denmark-based think tank Sustainia. The City’s Gentilly Resilience District has been listed among 100 outstanding sustainable solutions according to the Sustainia100 2016, which distinguishes public and private organizations for employing new mindsets and innovative thinking to deliver on everything from good health and affordable and clean energy, to improved infrastructure and sustainable urban development.

         The report recognizes the Gentilly Resilience District as an innovative model to reduce flood risk, slow land subsidence, improve public health and create jobs in the flood-prone, mixed-income city.

         Earlier this year, the City was awarded $141.3 million from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s National Disaster Resilience Competition. New Orleans’ winning proposal – Reshaping the Urban Delta – calls for the creation of the city’s first comprehensive resilience district in Gentilly with projects that invest in innovative and creative solutions so that the people, culture and infrastructure can thrive. A focus on Gentilly presents opportunities to leverage existing projects, to reduce flood risk and to support the area’s recovery and revitalization.

         “New Orleans is our nation’s most immediate laboratory for innovation and change and this recognition demonstrates that we are a world leader in building a better, stronger and more resilient community,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “I want to thank Sustainia for recognizing New Orleans’ potential as a model for global resilience and sustainable solutions. We thank our partners 100 Resilient Cities and the Rockefeller Foundation, and HUD for their support in helping our city achieve this success.”

         The District seeks to manage complex drainage and land issues by embracing environmental conditions and creating spaces to capture rainwater in its neighborhood. The District was recognized for its suite of urban water management projects addressing deteriorating streets, overburdened drainage systems and sinking soils by adapting the city’s streets, parks, schoolyards, open lots as well as residents’ properties with green infrastructure.

         The City plans to help train unemployed individuals to build projects in the resilience district and develop increasingly vital skills in water infrastructure management, connecting physical resilience with social resilience.

         More than 1,200 solutions were nominated for Sustania100, presenting the most innovative, available, scalable and sustainable solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. The trend this year was systemic opportunity.

         “It is an honor to be recognized by Sustainia for the work we are doing to build resilience,” said Jeff Hebert, the city’s Chief Resilience Officer. “The Gentilly Resilience District offers one of the best examples of moving  from strategy to action by embracing our changing environment and connecting our residents to opportunity.”

         “The term ‘systemic’ often brings to mind intractable problems, such as systemic poverty or systemic corruption,” said Morten Nielsen, Managing Director of Sustainia. “The global goals give us focus and pace, so we think it’s time to reclaim the word and talk about systemic opportunity, instead. The Sustainia100 shows us that the most compelling and successful solutions tackle multiple challenges, and global goals, in one go. The trends we’ve noted point to this new era of systemic opportunity. You can readily see this in the way that cities are becoming health facilitators or the disruption of the time-old electric grid, as just two great examples of big shifts in opportunity-spotting. It’s exciting to see global markets respond favorably to this new landscape of sustainable action.”

         Lise Kingo, the Executive Director of United Nations Global Compact, said, “The Sustainia100 offers us 100 reasons to be hopeful and inspired as we embark on this 15 year journey. The innovative thinking needed to accomplish the SDGs by 2030 already exists today. Now our task is to spread the word about these transformative solutions in order to help them scale and inspire new actors to take part in forging the path to a more sustainable future.”

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