GENEVA, 1 November 2011
- Role model cities from around the world are meeting for two days in Geneva to brainstorm the next phase of the campaign “Making Cities Resilient – My City is Getting Ready!” and have agreed on extending it to 2015.
The 17-month old campaign which now has over 900 members was praised by city representatives from India, the Philippines, Ecuador, Italy and the United Arab Emirates who singled out the aspects which had encouraged their local governments to get involved.
Piyush Ranjan Rout, founder of the Local Governance Network, in his home state of Orissa, said that when his city, Bhubaneswar, won international recognition for its disaster management efforts by receiving a certificate of distinction from UNISDR, it triggered enormous interest from other municipalities throughout India.
He told the UNISDR meeting: “It really brought us into the limelight and other cities wanted to know more. Disaster management was not much discussed before. The Campaign is opening up debate and triggering discussion. There are now 125 cities and municipalities in the campaign and more will join. It is a very good thing that the campaign is being extended to 2015.”
Lourdes Rodriquez, the Secretary for Safety in the Ecuadorian capital, Quito, said joining the campaign had helped the city to promote risk management as a central focus of planning and land use.
She said: “We are building a culture of prevention and strengthening our capacities. A good example is the relocation plan we have for 1,000 families living in an area of high seismic risk. We are also improving the safety of 100 schools.”
Paola Trevisan, a researcher with the Consortium for Managing Research Activities in the Venice Lagoon, spoke about structural and non-structural measures taken in support of Venice’s philosophy of “living with floods instead of fighting floods.”
She praised the campaign for “providing a global network structure, not a hierarchical structure, to allow campaign members access to international experience.” She cited the exchanges which UNISDR was able to encourage between Venice and the ancient Lebanese port city of Byblos which face similar problems in preserving world heritage sites from the threat of sea level rises and storms.
Violeta Seva, representing the Philippiines city of Makati, said the benefits of campaign membership included being guided by the campaign’s Ten Essentials in the development of new disaster management legislation. They were also now involved in a city-to-city experience sharing project with Kathmandu and Quito.
Joining the discussion by Skype, Redha Salman, Director, Public Health and Safety Department, Dubai, said that the heart of the campaign consisted of the day-to-day work programme focussed on issues such as sanitation and water management.
“The Campaign could not have come at a better time. It provided us with a reference and recognition for our efforts. These issues are no longer discussed behind closed doors but discussed by all sectors of society,” he said.