1. About the Campaign
What is the “Making Cities Resilient" Campaign about?

Cities, towns and local governments need to become resilient to disasters by getting ready. Throughout 2010-2015 and beyond, the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) will campaign together with its partners for this to happen. A ten-point checklist of essentials for making cities resilient serves as a guide for commitment during the campaign.

Who are we trying to reach?

The campaign’s principal target groups are mayors and local government leaders of cities and towns of different sizes, characteristics, locations and risk profiles. Besides mayors and local government leaders, the campaign is also calling on civil society, planners and urban professionals, as well as national authorities and community groups to develop innovative solutions and engage with local governments to reduce disaster risks.

Why a campaign on “Making Cities Resilient” and local governments?

Cities are the lifelines of today’s society. They serve as nations’ economic engines, centres of technology and innovation, and they are living evidence of our cultural heritage. But cities also can become generators of new risks: failed infrastructure and services, environmental urban degradation, increasing informal settlements and almost a billion slum dwellers around the world. This makes many urban citizens more vulnerable to natural hazards.

Why focus on local governments?

Local governments are the institutional and politically responsible body at local level. They are often the first responders to citizens needs (and complaints), provide basic services and oversight, engage in urban development and manage emergencies and disaster risk. They need knowledge, tools, capacities and resources to act on these responsibilities. They need to understand how making cities resilient can help them deliver better on their many responsibilities. Local governments are often forgotten as targets by national and international community when policies are set and resources become available.

What are the objectives of the campaign?

Overall, the campaign seeks to raise awareness and effect change by urging local governments to take immediate action, and to build multi-stakeholder partnerships to achieve this. The objectives of the Making Cities Resilient campaign are threefold, and can be achieved through building long-lasting partnerships to:

Know more, by raising awareness of citizens and governments at all levels of the benefits of reducing urban risks.
Invest wisely, by identifying budget allocations within local government funding plans to invest in disaster risk reduction activities.
Build more safely, by including disaster risk reduction in participatory urban development planning processes and protect critical infrastructure.

How can we all make this happen?

By engaging mayors and local governments around the world, and urging them to sign up to the campaign and reduce risk in a number of different ways. This includes working towards meeting the goals set out in the Ten Essentials checklist, creating local partnerships and alliances with citizens and community groups, and organizing public hearings, drills and other awareness-raising activities.

The campaign also suggests a variety of concrete steps and activities that can be taken by other partners in disaster risk reduction such as local government associations, national governments, academia, donors, the private sector as well as international and regional organizations and NGOs.

What are the benefits for a Mayor to invest in disaster risk reduction and resilience?

There are many reasons for a mayor and the city council to prioritize resilience as part of their political and sustainable development agenda. For local government leaders, reducing disaster risk can be a legacy opportunity—paying attention to protection will improve environmental, social and economic conditions, including combating the future variables of climate change, and leave the community more prosperous and secure than before. The gains include:

A Legacy of Leadership

  • Strengthened trust in and legitimacy of local political structures and authority.
  • Opportunities for decentralized competencies and optimization of resources.
  • Conformity to international standards and practices.

Social and Human Gains

  • Lives and property saved in disaster or emergency situations, with a dramatic reduction in fatalities and serious injuries.
  • Active citizen participation and a platform for local development.
  • Protected community assets and cultural heritage, with less diversion of city resources to disaster response and recovery.

Economic Growth and Job Creation

  • Assurance for investors in anticipation of fewer disaster losses, leading to increased private investment in homes, buildings and other properties that comply with safety standards.
  • Increased capital investment in infrastructure, including retrofitting, renovation and renewal.
  • Increase in the tax base, business opportunities, economic growth and employment as safer, better-governed cities attract more investment.

More Liveable Communities

  • Balanced ecosystems that foster services such as fresh water and recreation and that reduce pollution.
  • Improved education in safer schools and improved health and well-being.

Inter-connected Cities with National and International Expertise and Resources

  • Access to an expanding network of cities and partners committed to disaster resilience through the Campaign, to share good practices, tools and expertise.
  • An expanded knowledge base and better informed citizens.

Who is organizing the campaign?

The UNISDR secretariat is the overall coordinator of the Making Cities Resilient Campaign. However, local, regional and international partners and participating cities and local governments are the main drivers and owners of the campaign. UN-HABITAT, with its broader World Urban Campaign, is a key partner in this campaign, along with other UN organizations, city associations and organizations such as UCLG, ICLEI and CityNet, among others. NGO networks, grassroots organizations and other UNISDR partners are also engaged in the campaign.

How long will the campaign last?

The campaign was official launched in May 2010 and will last until at least 2015. Although a number of cities and local governments are already undertaking risk reduction activities, the momentum gained during the first phase of the campaign (2010-11) will help sustain and mainstream disaster risk reduction into the long run. Following the campaign, we expect a large number of cities and local governments will have included disaster risk reduction as an integral component of local development plans, with a view to facilitating the advancement of the goals of the Hyogo Framework for Action by 2015.

How can we measure success?

From 2010 to 2011, success was measured through the number of mayors and local governments joining and committing to its cause. As of 2012, the campaign’s success will also be measured by the number of partnerships and alliances developed by different stakeholders at the local level, as well as the actual progress made by participating cities and local governments in each of the Ten Essential areas through the Local Government Self-Assessment Tool (LG-SAT). A first Making Cities Resilient report will be released by the end of 2012

How does the 2010-2011 Campaign link to previous World Disaster Risk Reduction Campaigns?

The Resilient Cities Campaign builds on the outcome of the 2006-2007 Campaign "Disaster Risk Reduction Begins at School" and the 2008-2009 Campaign on "Safe Hospitals". To highlight this point, the "One Million Safe Schools and Hospitals Initiative" was launched as part of the Making City Resilient Campaign. This initiative aims to raise higher awareness and political commitment by local governments and city planners to ensure the safety of schools and hospitals located in their area of influence, as one of the sine-qua-non conditions to achieve city resilience.

Where to go for more information on the campaign?

If you still have a question that has not been answered above, please contact: isdr-campaign@un.org.

2. How to get involved
What will be the role of cities in the campaign?

Local governments and cities play an active role in the campaign, both as advocates and drivers of disaster risk reduction implementation at the local and international levels. A number of committed mayors, champions and role model cities have been identified through this process and help UNISDR and its partners to promote and implement the campaign.

How can cities and local governments sign up to the campaign?

Cities and local governments will be invited by UNISDR and its partners to join the campaign, by either becoming a champion, a role model, or a participating city or local government. Please refer to the nomination guidelines for more information on how to sign-up to the "Making Cities Resilient" Campaign.

What is expected from a Champion / Role Model / participating city?

All participating cities and local governments are expected to take an active role in the campaign, especially within their own cities and towns. They should be willing to contribute know-how, resources and provide overall support to the campaign within their reach and capacity. For more information on the typical profile of a champion, a role Model and a participating city, please refer to the relevant guidelines and the Terms of Reference.

How many cities are we aiming to reach?

"My city is getting ready" is a rallying call for all mayors and local governments to make as many cities as possible as resilient as possible. It is also a call for local community groups, citizens, planners, academia and the private sector to join efforts. The aim of the campaign is to get thousands of mayors and local government leaders to commit to at least one of the Ten Essentials, and to involve hundreds of global, regional and national partners and other stakeholders in this process. Between 2010 and 2011 alone, the campaign has secured the participation of almost 1.000 cities and local governments, exceeding by far the initial targets set in 2010. UNISDR will seek to work systematically with its national counterparts and National Platforms for them to reach out and to support their local governments to achieve these objectives.

What is the nomination process? What are the selection criteria?

The overall nomination process is facilitated by the UNISDR secretariat with support from an international, multi-disciplinary "Advisory Group" established in 2010. This Advisory Group will be revised in 2012. For more information on the nomination process and selection criteria for Champions and Role Models, please refer to the nomination guidelines.

Do I get paid if I am selected as a "Champion" or a "Role Model" city?

No. All of the above designations are considered voluntary and non-remunerated.

Why should I get involved in the campaign?

In addition to taking a major step towards building the safety and resilience of your city / local community, by participating in the campaign you will also benefit from increased visibility and exposure to international experts and other leaders in this area, and be able to share good practices, lessons learned and experience in this particular area. Participating cities and local governments will also be encouraged to host conferences, workshops and city-to-city learning events in the context of the campaign, with support from the UNISDR secretariat.

My city has just started to work in disaster risk reduction. Can I still join the campaign?

Of course! If you are a city or a local government that is in early stages of risk reduction planning and management, you are especially encouraged to join the campaign by pledging to improve resilience to disasters against one (or more) of the Ten Essentials for city resilience.

Will I automatically be registered as a supporter of the "One Million Safe Schools and Hospitals Initiative" if I subscribe to the City Resilience Campaign (and vice-versa)?

No. Despite being a major component of the Making Cities Resilient Campaign, the One Million Safe Schools and Hospitals Initiative should be subscribe to through the following link: http://www.safe-schools-hospitals.net/ (external link). By committing and pledging for school and hospital resilience, you will become a major agent in transforming your city into a resilient and safer place.

What if I am not a local government representative?

If you are a community group, NGO or other active member of your city or community who wants to commit to and support the campaign goals, you may also sign up to the campaign here.

I want to nominate a city or a local government. What should I do?

Local government officials, technical institutions and other partners are encouraged to send nomination proposals to UNISDR, with a clear indication of why this city / local government could serve as Champion or a Role Model in the campaign. All nominations should be submitted by e-mail to isdr-campaign@un.org through the relevant nomination form.

3. Campaign activities
What will be the concrete activities carried out during the campaign?

A number of global, regional and national initiatives will be carried out during the campaign, in collaboration with partners and participating cities and local governments. Such activities include:

  • Organising city-to-city learning and study tours with role model cities, in collaboration with champions and campaign partners.
  • Promoting courses and research with training institutes and academia to provide capacity development opportunities for cities and local government officials.
  • Promoting and facilitating access to existing tools and resources for urban risk reduction and city resilience, through the campaign website and handbooks; developing with partners new tools aimed at setting coherent standards for making cities resilient.
  • Organising policy dialogues, workshops and other events to raise the profile of urban risk reduction, create political space among different stakeholders, and opportunities for information and knowledge sharing.
  • Developing and contributing to high-visibility initiatives and media outreach, including the "One Million Safe Schools and Hospitals" pledging initiative, the Sasakawa Award for Disaster Risk Reduction, and others.

What is the support provided by the UNISDR secretariat?

UNISDR and other campaign partners will provide support by publicising success and good practice, and creating space for meeting and learning by different stakeholders. The Campaign website, maintained by UNISDR, also serves as the main information hub and knowledge base for the campaign. Finally, UNISDR also coordinates the development of publications and tools (such as the Making Cities Resilient Handbook and the Local Government Self-Assessment Tool - LG-SAT that support campaign implementation in the medium and long run.

Will funding be available to cities and local governments that sign up to the campaign?

There will be no ear-marked resources to support specific activities by participating cities, which would be undertaken directly with the local government themselves and their local or other partners. Specific proposals, of particular relevance to the campaign objectives, may be considered for funding under exceptional circumstances, and on a case-by-case basis.