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Preparing Chicago for Climate Change


The city should implement the Resilient Chicago plan for inclusive growth and a connected city. Resilient Chicago sets forth a framework for building urban resilience that addresses the chronic stresses—such as racial inequity—and acute shocks—like heat waves and severe flooding—facing the City of Chicago. It lists 50 actions focusing on building stronger, equitable neighborhoods, robust infrastructure and prepared communities. City departments and agencies are leading many actions, and will be a critical partner in multiple other actions led by civic organizations and community stakeholders.

Executive Order

Resilient Chicago was released on February 14, 2019 as an outgrowth of Chicago’s participation in the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities initiative. Developed by city staff and a diverse Steering Committee comprising neighborhood, civic, private and philanthropic partners, it is a solid foundation to build upon.

Recommendation: Issue an Executive Order requiring relevant City of Chicago departments and agencies to commit to Resilient Chicago implementation.


There are structural changes needed to remove the discriminatory practices and policies that have caused disparities disproportionately burdening Chicago’s most vulnerable residents. We must take action in order to build our resilience benefitting everyone. This cannot just be another plan sitting on bookshelves.

Recommendation: Implement Resilient Chicago. Convene a diverse Implementation Committee, expand public engagement and commit to making progress on prioritized actions.


Housed in the Mayor’s Office, the Chief Resilience Officer (a position funded by the Rockefeller Foundation) was the central point person at the city spearheading the effort to develop Resilient Chicago. With the pending mayoral transition, it is unclear who will oversee implementation and how. City staff and departments are identified as leads on some actions. For others led by partners, city staff will need to coordinate with partners. The city should play a role providing general oversight for strategy implementation.

Recommendation: Dedicate adequate city staffing resources to carry forth Resilient Chicago. Charge the Implementation Committee to provide a recommendation, upon assessing various options. Different models include empowering a Chief Resilience Officer tasked with coordination of resilience and equity team leaders embedded in every department, reintroducing a Department of Environment and Sustainability, or establishing a Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Racial Equity to oversee implementation (a model adopted by the City of Boston). Ensure continuity and heightened coordination across multiple city departments and agencies involved in executing actions in Resilient Chicago.


100 Day Actions

First Year Actions and Goals
First Term Goals

Additional Considerations

Why the time is right

The metro Chicago region and the State of Illinois have committed to policies, programs and platforms that require aggressive climate action:

Chicago residents, businesses, investors as well as cities across the nation will be looking to the City of Chicago for bold leadership in the work ahead. This is the opportune time for Chicago’s next mayor to seize this momentum and demonstrate action that places equity at the forefront by embracing Resilient Chicago.

What it will take

Executing Resilient Chicago to its fullest will require an emphasis on achieving racial, social and economic equity, as well as bold climate action. This will take a deeper understanding of urban resilience and city leadership on specific actions. Mayoral staff and departments will need to forge partnerships with civic, resident and business stakeholders across the city and surrounding municipalities for successful implementation.

Other considerations

Implementing Resilient Chicago calls for coordination, transparency and a commitment to this strategy as well as other comparable commitments and documents. Chicago has access to multiple networks and forums to bolster its capacity, seek technical assistance and learn from peers. Among a few are 100 Resilient Cities, Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge, C40, and Chicago Council on Global Affairs annual Chicago Forum on Global Cities.