A Better World - Volume 5

[ ] 108 A B et t er W or ld Towards urban resilience in Tel Aviv — cracking the innovation code Hila Oren, CEO, The Tel Aviv Foundation T he city of Tel Aviv has been characterized in many ways. Now branded the Non-Stop City, it also became the White City and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003 for the largest collection of Bauhaus-style buildings in the world, named Best Smart City in the World in 2014 for its utilization of technology for the benefit of residents, and most recently, the vegan capital of the world. The mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo, Ron Huldai, recently elected for his fifth term, has transformed the city and helped to cement it as the commercial and cultural capital of Israel. Though not officially a ‘global city’ — Prof. Saskia Sassen’s definition of a leading city with an international business centre and a direct influence on global affairs — Tel Aviv’s innovative and pluralistic character, and its participation in global programmes and partnerships, justify its descrip- tion as a lighthouse to Israel and the world. Two of these global programmes and partnerships that help drive innova- tion and diversity in the city— Urban95 and 100 Resilient Cities — are instrumental in Tel Aviv’s advances in reaching Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11: making the city inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. The Tel Aviv Foundation has been an effective enabler of the participation by the municipality of Tel Aviv-Yafo in many of these global programmes and partnerships. The Foundation is one of the external faces of Tel Aviv through its global philanthropic work and engagement with other urban funds around the world. It generates additional resources to help the city develop smart solutions to urban challenges, and implement game-changing urban and social development projects to support those in need and to create opportunity. In enabling the municipality to access alternative and addi- tional sources of financial and human capital, the Foundation also plays an important role in advancing SDG11. This is increasingly important in Tel Aviv and around the world as urbanization trends upwards. Currently, 55 per cent of the world’s population lives in urban areas and this is expected to increase to 68 per cent by 2050. 1 Consequently, the responsibility to provide for, and the power to impact people’s daily lives and environments rests increasingly with cities and local governments. This presents new challenges as municipalities seek to expand their budgets and resources to meet the needs of their growing populations. Given these trends, the criticality of SDG11, globally, is increasing. City foundations (also known as mayoral funds) have been established in a number of locations around the world, from New York to London to Christchurch. As new urban chal- lenges and needs emerge, the foundations seek to attract funding and knowledge to help address them. Many of these organizations, such as the Tel Aviv Foundation, are chaired by the mayor, which ensures alignment between the opera- tions of the foundation and the strategy of the municipality. In the case of Tel Aviv, this also enables municipal matching, a unique mechanism whereby the city matches donations to double their financial impact. The Tel Aviv Foundation adds increasing value through its ability to facilitate public-private partnerships and connec- tions with international organizations offering best-practice programmes and methodologies. A recent example of a successful public-private partnership is the Temuna theatre, which is being rebuilt as part of a commercial develop- ment. For international organizations, partnering with the Foundation is a win-win, as it offers a gateway to sharing best-practice programmes and methodologies with the city, contributing positively to strategy and policy. Since 2016, the Tel Aviv Foundation has forged meaning- ful partnerships with ‘Urban95’ of the Bernard Van Leer The responsibility to provide for, and the power to impact people’s daily lives and environments rests increasingly with cities and local governments. The relationships between the old and new, café culture and commerce, are significant considerations of urban planning responsibility Image: Sivan Ozen