Vice Mayor Elvestuen (left), Ms Paola Albrito of UNISDR and Mayor Stang at last night’s signing ceremony in Oslo.
By Andy McElroy
OSLO, 24 September 2013
- The Mayor of Oslo, Mr. Fabian Stang, last night announced that the Norwegian capital has joined UNISDR's Making Cities Resilient Campaign and linked it to the tragic events of July 2011 when 77 people were murdered in bombings and a mass shooting.
Addressing disaster risk policymakers and practitioners from 28 European countries in Oslo City Hall, Mayor Stang spoke movingly of the terrible events of July 2011 and said the impact of that tragedy was one factor that had prompted Oslo to strengthen its planning for all types of risk, including those associated with natural hazards.
"That day in July 2011 was impossible to understand. We in Norway used to watch on television all the terrible situations going on around the world and felt humble that we were not a part of all those tragedies. Since July 2011 that has changed," Mayor Stang said.
"We will always have risk but we need to work to reduce it as much as possible so that we succeed in making people more secure."
The Vice Mayor of Oslo, Mr Ola Elvestuen, is responsible for disaster risk management and he spoke of how the city's comprehensive planning now includes analysis across 29 different categories of risk.
"The planning ranges from terror attacks to issues associated with climate change. It is focused on the work on the ground and looks at what to do and how to do it," Vice Mayor Elvestuen said.
"We are trying to make it easier to live green and make our city more resilient for the changes that we expect. We already experience a wetter climate and have problems with urban flooding. These troubles will only increase in the future.
"Urban flooding is the priority for us. We are looking at how to use green space more effectively, green roofing and better waste water management to make our city safer."
Oslo brings to 1,504 the number of cities and municipalities that have joined the Making Cities Resilient campaign, which was launched in May 2010 by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) to address issues of local governance and urban risk.
The Head of UNISDR Europe, Ms Paola Albrito, welcomed Oslo to the campaign: "It is wonderful that Oslo is now part of this ever-growing network where cities learn from each other by exchanging common challenges and solutions.
"True learning is to be gained by viewing the actions developed at the local level and seeing how the mayors and citizens around the world address disaster risk on a daily basis. I hope that Oslo's example in joining the campaign will be followed by many other cities in Norway."
Oslo is no stranger to active networking: the city is part of the Nordic cooperation on emergency preparedness for disasters between the capitals of Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Sweden, and Finland.
The Norwegian capital is also part of the Cities of the Future programme involving the country's 13 largest municipalities. This cooperation initiative engages the private sector and general population in planning for better natural resource management and effective climate change adaptation.