UNISDR, the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery of the World Bank, UNDP Syria and the Syrian Ministry for Local Administration convened a regional workshop on Urban Risk Reduction in Damascus on 4-5 November 2009. More than forty participants representing local authorities, researchers, academic experts, international and regional organizations have gathered to discuss regional priorities and challenges with respect to urban risk reduction as well as key actions to be undertaken regionally, nationally and locally to build safer cities and increase resilience to disasters.
During the workshop several experiences and initiatives on urban risk reduction were discussed with progress, challenges and gaps in undertaking risk assessment particularly highlighted. Tools for risk assessment were presented and participants shared experiences on disaster risk reduction and building cities resilience in the context of a changing climate, rapidly growing population and absence of integrated urban risk reduction approaches at regional, national and local levels.
The biannual World Campaign for Disaster Risk Reduction 2010 – 2011 “ Building Resilient Cities, Addressing Urban Risk” was presented in the workshop aiming at engaging local governments and technical experts from the region in the global campaign and highlighting good practices and models from the region in enhancing cities resilience. Safety and resilience of critical infrastructure, particularly health facilities and schools was also discussed during the workshop.
Several issues emerged as key priorities for consideration in future actions and the workshop participants agreed on a set of recommendations including establishing a regional task force for urban risk reduction and undertaking an inventory on existing initiatives to reduce urban risk.