"All over the world, dedicated men and women in leadership positions are doing extraordinary things to engage their communities in disaster risk reduction."

Since 2010, UNISDR has begun recognizing individuals as "Making Cities Resilient" Champions, for using their political influence to lobby for disaster risk reduction in cities throughout their country or region. Their motivation often goes beyond professional interest, spurred by a passion for public service and an abiding commitment to build community resilience. This is a non-remunerated honorary position.

Who can designate Champions

Only the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction and head of UNISDR may designate a Champion for Making Cities Resilient, by issuing a letter of designation.

Criteria for Champions

Individuals can be recognized as Champions for four major achievements:

  • Proven ability to mobilize others to adopt disaster resilient thinking and behaviour.
  • Ability to successfully influence policy and change at the national, local or community level so that laws or other policy measures are passed to reduce disaster risk.
  • Ability to convey messages to at-risk people - young people, women and girls, the aging population and disabled persons - in ways proven to reduce those people's vulnerability to disaster.
  • Demonstrating extraordinary commitment to the "Making Cities Resilient" campaign.
  • Period of engagement of 2 years with renewal possibility.

UNISDR aims for balanced representation of Champions in terms of gender, countries and regions.

Role of Champions

Emerging trends show that progress is being made in disaster risk reduction at the institutional level in areas such as national legislation, setting up early warning systems, and in strengthening disaster preparedness and response. But a review conducted by UNISDR in 2011 also uncovered a number of challenges:

  • Lack of multi-hazard risk assessments and dedicated budget lines for risk reduction.
  • Failure to record and report disaster losses in a comprehensive manner.
  • Not enough resources are allocated to local governments for disaster risk management.
  • There is limited data on localized losses and difficulties connecting local context with national monitoring systems, loss accounting and risk assessments.

The role of Champions is to connect with - and convince - government officials at all levels, high-profile thinkers, innovators and entrepreneurs whose activities can catalyse action to address those challenges.

How UNISDR and Champions can work together

As a steward of the world's disaster risk reduction agenda and a clearinghouse for disaster resilience information, UNISDR stands ready to provide Champions with on-call assistance that is needed to advocate on behalf of resilient cities.

In support of UNISDR's mandate, Champions can help secure tangible commitments from other high-profile individuals to create an enabling environment for disaster risk reduction to take place.

Tangible commitments are needed most from:

  • Heads of State or Government
  • Parliamentarians
  • Local government officials
  • The private sector
  • The media
  • Civil society leaders
  • Youth leaders
  • Members of gender networks
  • Members of community-based organizations

An enabling environment is needed to:

  • Allow governments to enact pro-disaster risk reduction legislation and secure funding for such measures.
  • Foster partnerships between public and private entities to implement disaster risk reduction initiatives.
  • Trigger projects with concrete outcomes for disaster risk reduction.

Champions may also be invited to perform public service announcements and appear in the media to promote international disaster risk reduction initiatives managed by UNISDR:

  • The international Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction attended by stakeholders ranging from Heads of State and Government to grassroots organizations.
  • Regional and National Platform meetings organized in conjunction with national governments around the world.
  • The worldwide commemoration of the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, 13 October.
  • The prestigious UN Sasakawa Award for Disaster Reduction, given out every two years.