News Release: March 30, 2016

Resilient New Orleans Plan Named a National Best Practice

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Planning Association (APA) announced today that Resilient New Orleans—the planning strategy by the city of New Orleans to make the city more resilient, sustainable and prepared to meet challenges and adapt to change—has received the 2016 National Planning Excellence Award for a Best Practice.

APA’s Best Practice award is given each year to a tool, project, or program exhibiting state-of-the-art planning methods and practices that help create communities of lasting value. Recipients of the Best Practice award demonstrate results and the importance of innovative planning in building and strengthening communities.

Having faced a variety of challenges and disasters in recent years—including hurricanes, an oil spill, and shifting geographic terrain, along with the struggles of chronic income inequality and financial recession—New Orleans created a comprehensive plan that focused instead on resilience, not rebuilding. The plan would strengthen the city to better manage risk and prepare for future challenges.

The three overarching visions of the strategy are (1) embrace the city’s changing environment, (2) connect to opportunity to create a more equitable city, and (3) transform city systems to become a more dynamic and prepared city. To facilitate timely implementation, 41 specific actions are identified in the strategy. Many are already underway, including:

  • Advancing coastal protection and restoration
  • Investing in comprehensive and innovative urban water management
  • Lowering barriers to workforce participation
  • Expanding access to safe and affordable housing
  • Redesigning transit systems to connect people, employment, and essential services
  • Improving the redundancy and reliability of the city’s energy infrastructure

“The development of our city’s first resilience strategy is a transformative milestone,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “In New Orleans, we have been experiencing the effects of climate change and sea level rise for many years, and this work makes it possible for those threats to become opportunities. I am delighted that our work has been recognized by APA and hopeful that other cities across America will make similar commitments toward resilience planning.” 

“We are very proud of the positive changes we are already making as a result of Resilient New Orleans and grateful that our city is being recognized for this innovative approach to planning,” said Jeffrey Hebert, who was appointed as the first Chief Resilience Officer of New Orleans in November 2014. “Through a focus on interconnectedness and implementation, we are building a stronger, more equitable, and dynamic New Orleans for the citizens of both today and the future.”

Resilient New Orleans was developed with process guidance from 100 Resilient Cities—Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation (100RC), as well as HR&A Advisors. Input was received from over 350 local, national, and international stakeholders, and inolved representatives from all neighborhoods and communities—including historically underserved populations—to better understand what the public felt the city was doing well and what it needed to improve.

“The city of New Orleans has earned great respect by its direct and action-oriented approach to far-reaching and sustainable planning,” said W. Shedrick Coleman, APA 2016 Awards Jury chair. “The concerted efforts at work in New Orleans prove that with enough innovation and determination, cities can overcome even the most challenging struggles and vulnerabilities.”

Read more about Resilient New Orleans.

The 2016 APA National Planning Award recipients will be honored at a special luncheon on April 4, 2016, during the APA National Planning Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. The award winners will also be featured in the April 2016 issue of Planning magazine.

For a list of all of the APA 2016 National Planning Excellence and Achievement Award recipients, visit APA’s national awards program, the profession’s highest honor, is a proud tradition established more than 50 years ago to recognize outstanding community plans, planning programs and initiatives, public education efforts, and individuals for their leadership on planning issues.

The American Planning Association is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the art, science, and profession of good planning–physical, economic and social–so as to create communities that offer better choices for where and how people work and live. APA has offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. For more information, visit

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Mary Beth Romig, Director of Communications, Resilient New Orleans, 504.658.4450;

Roberta Rewers, APA, 312.786.6395;