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Dutch - US Collaboration

Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force

  • 13 Climate Action
  • 15 Life On Land

In December 2012, President Obama launched the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force to align federal policies and resources with local needs and priorities for recovery.

Chaired by Shaun Donovan, then Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Task Force was also charged with furnishing recommendations for rebuilding towards long-term resilience. As the Task Force began developing its understanding of the situation on the ground, Donovan made contact with the water management administration in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, home to some of the world’s leading water experts.

This collaboration between the Dutch and US governments was of great value to the Task Force’s approach. By appointing Henk Ovink to the Task Force as special advisor and Principal of Rebuild by Design, the Dutch government’s insights into the intersection of politics, design, and planning became embedded into the Task Force’s work.

Source: The Rebuild by Design Book

A New Model for International Post-Disaster Collaboration

  • 13 Climate Action
  • 15 Life On Land

The international perspective suggested that rebuilding would require a process fundamentally different from the regular federal model.

Designing successful interventions would rely upon intensive collaboration between community members, government agencies, and talented experts from a variety of fields. Additionally, the process would have to start with regional research and analysis, wherein a “design thinking” approach would help collaborators develop a highly nuanced understanding of the region’s vulnerabilities before they began identifying critical problems or envisioning solutions. Last but not least, making an up-front commitment to funding the first phases of implementation for the best designs would incentivize participation.

With these conditions and guidelines in place, the Task Force formally recommended “creat[ing] a design competition to develop innovative resilient design solutions that address the Sandy-affected region’s most pressing vulnerabilities.” That competition became Rebuild by Design.

Source: The Rebuild by Design Book