Local self-assessment leads to resilience

Path to resilience: Lao Cai in Vietnam was one of four study cities that benefited from the use of UNISDR’s Local Government Self-Assessment Tool (LGSAT).
 
By Andy McElroy

GENEVA, 10 January 2014 – UNISDR’s Local Government Self-Assessment Tool (LGSAT) is an effective tool to assess a city’s institutional capacity to build resilience, a new report has found.

The study said the LGSAT opened up dialogue and enabled the establishment of baseline data for the Ten Essentials of UNISDR’s Making Cities Resilient Campaign “that can be used to track progress as the cities continue to build disaster and climate resilience”.

The report, titled ‘Assessing City Resilience: Lessons from using the UNISDR Local Government Self-Assessment Tool in Thailand and Vietnam’, said the LGSAT enabled local discussions to take place within an internationally-applied framework of common issues.

The study looked at four cities – Hue and Lao Cai, in Vietnam, and Udon Thani and Hat Yai, in Thailand – and identified gaps between policy and practice, and between planning and implementation.

“Where there has been progress at the policy and planning level it has not always been accompanied by progress in implementation. This is most clearly the case in areas that are critical to both disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation – land use planning, building codes, and ecological planning,” the report said.

However, the study said the identification of such gaps would enable the cities to develop appropriate urban climate resilience strategies and actions.

Overall, the report made five key findings. First, planning for disaster risk reduction appears to be more advanced than for climate change adaptation. Second, assessment of hazards and risk is limited. Third, urban land use planning remains an area of critical weakness. Fourth, much of the effort around disaster risk reduction (and similarly around climate change adaptation) is based around physical infrastructure. And fifth, definitions of who might constitute vulnerable groups differed across stakeholders.

Feedback from the four cities suggested two major improvements to the LGSAT: first, the development of specific indicators to which post-assessment initiatives could be tied to spur action; and second, help on the use of visual tools, such as spider-graphs, to better present the data.

While the LGSAT was praised for its ability to foster engagement, the study said it was “a difficult balance to strike between supporting multi-stakeholder dialogue as the main focus of the LGSAT versus the need to contribute to a global assessment of city resilience”.

UNISDR’s Head of Advocacy and Outreach Mr Jerry Velasquez welcomed the extensive report: “This is the first time that the LGSAT has been formally used in climate vulnerability assessment for the purpose of urban development planning as well as disaster and climate change planning and response under USAID and Rockefeller Foundation-funded projects. I hope that this can be equally applied in future programmes of both partners.”

The LGSAT was applied to Hue, Lao Cai and Udon Thani under the Mekong Building Climate Resilience Asian Cities (M-BRACE) programme, supported by USAID. In Hat Yai, LGSAT was used within the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN) initiative, supported by the Rockefeller Foundation.

The study was compiled by the Institute for Social and Environmental Transition-International, Thailand Environment Institute, and Vietnam National Institute for Science and Technology Policy and Strategy Studies.
The Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will take place in 2015 The Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will take place in 2015.
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