Essential One: Institutional and Administrative Framework

"Put in place an organization and coordination to understand and reduce disaster risk, based on participation of citizen groups and civil society. Build local alliances. Ensure that all departments understand their role in disaster risk reduction and preparedness"


To be effective and contribute to a city’s development and safety, managing disaster risk and understanding the potential threats of complex events requires a holistic approach and must include the involvement of local government decision makers, city officials and departments, academia, business and citizens groups. Experience gained through the Hyogo Framework for Action has shown that appropriate policies and an institutional framework are preconditions for decision making and sound disaster risk reduction actions. Accompanied by decentralized power and resource allocations and the participation of all major groups and actors in planning, implementation and monitoring mechanisms, this Framework contributes to the city’s development objectives and sustainability.


Establish or strengthen the city-level institutional and coordination capacity

  • Assign a lead entity or establish a designated office within the city administration to lead a coordination mechanism among departments and other actors.
  • Define and review the roles and responsibilities of departments and services involved on a regular basis; clarify the limitation of authority of each.
  • Involve different actors, volunteers, NGOs, academia, the business community, etc. and encourage the involvement of community-based organisations as early as possible in the process.

Establish a legislative framework for resilience and disaster risk reduction

  • Identify the obligations, constraints and opportunities that current urban planning and regulations, national laws and regulatory devices impose on the city administration; improve local regulations with resilience criteria.
  • Generate municipal ordinances that support disaster risk reduction in all sectors (public and private).
  • Update environmental, building and planning standards and bylaws to support risk reduction and anchor them in recent risk assessments.
  • Ensure a degree of flexibility in regulations for low-income areas, without compromising safety.

Coordinate all emergency services within the city

  • Generate a collaborative strategy to integrate and coordinate all existing units responsible for emergency response, relief and recovery, even if under the jurisdiction of multiple authorities.
  • Use formal protocols to maintain recognition of individual organisations and services (fire departments, ambulance services, health services, police, NGOs and others), increase inter-operability among these units (language, tools, communication) and generate scenarios for coordinated drills.
  • Update environmental, building and planning standards and bylaws to support risk reduction and anchor them in recent risk assessments.
  • Ensure a degree of flexibility in regulations for low-income areas, without compromising safety.

Create alliances and networks beyond the city

  • Seek and promote alliances, incorporating a cluster approach among neighbouring municipalities with similar or interdependent risks, to strengthen partnerships, improve decentralized actions, plan for common territorial risks and multiply resources.
  • Develop partnerships with local, national or international universities, NGOs or scientific-technical bodies that can provide data, expertise and research.
  • Consider an exchange program with cities in other countries that face similar risk patterns or challenges.
  • Participate in regional and international fora and in the global campaign ‘Making Cities Resilient,’ to promote initiatives, exchange experiences and increase local-national-international cooperation.

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  • Albay (Philippines)

  • Albay Makes Risk Reduction a Formal and Permanent Priority
    The Albay provincial government in the Philippines established a permanent disaster risk management office in 1995 to deal with the high risk of typhoons, floods, landslides and earthquakes. Disaster risk reduction was institutionalized, funded properly, and genuinely mainstreamed into local government planning and programmes, making it clear that disaster reduction was a formal and permanent priority within regular planning, governance and local government programmes. As a result, disaster prevention, preparedness and response have been well coordinated and, with the exception of 2006 and 2011, no casualties have have resulted in 15 of the last 17 years. For more information consult (page 48) and

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  • Beirut (Lebanon)

  • Lebanese Cities Begin Concerted Action on the Ten Essentials
    Councilor Nada Yamout, from Beirut, Lebanon’s city council stated at the Third Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (May, 2011): "We are a newly elected council; we are concerned about disaster risk reduction and so we registered as a Campaign City in October 2010. As a first step, the Council looked at allocating a budget to begin risk reduction activities: risk assessment, building a risk database, developing a DRR master plan, etc. We analyzed our needs and took stock of what was available to enable us to perform a gap analysis. We have several heritage sites within Beirut and protecting and preserving their character is important. We will move ahead using four pillars: technical support; financial support; involvement of the private sector and civil society; and national government support. If we do not allocate the right resources, we run the risk of not prioritizing projects. Building resilience is not the responsibility of the mayor alone. Action must be taken at four levels: national and provincial governments, city government politicians—whether elected or appointed; and the municipal administration."
    Lebanon’s National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction is helping small and medium-sized local governments to sign on to the Campaign for Resilient Cities, undertaking baseline studies and stepping up disaster risk reduction actions (November, 2011).

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  • North Vancouver (Canada)

  • Innovation and Community Practice in Holistic Disaster Risk Reduction and Policy
    North Vancouver, Canada formed a natural hazards task force comprised of eight volunteer district residents. Their mandate was to recommend to the Council the community's tolerable level of risk from natural hazards. The task force received presentations from subject matter experts and consulted the public for their input. The resulting recommendations make up the District's current policy for risk tolerance. Hazards and risks are carefully considered when granting building and development permits. Risk is compared with the risk tolerance criteria and further reduced to as low as is reasonable. The District works with residents, private corporations and neighbouring government land owners to collectively reduce risk from landslides and forest fires by taking action to improve drainage on slopes and create defensible spaces along the urban-wild land interface areas. “North Vancouver is setting a high standard for communities across Canada, and has become a model at engaging municipal and federal governments and the private sector in the promotion of a resilient approach to disaster risk reduction,” said Vic Toews, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety, when the District of North Vancouver received the United Nations-Sasakawa Award for Disaster Risk Reduction, in 2011 (the award was shared with San Francisco, Cebu, Philippines and Santa Fe, Argentina). North Vancouver has incorporated risk reduction criteria into its official community plan, strategic planning, and development permit processes, and has instituted early warning systems for landslides and debris flows. The jury for the UN-Sasakawa Award says the district “demonstrates capacity for challenging, absorbing and producing technology, traditional knowledge, new knowledge and products, and innovative practices.” “This international recognition is evidence of the work by the professional staff who serve the citizens of North Vancouver District and the leaders and many volunteers of the North Shore Emergency Management Office, and all of the agencies dedicated to the public safety needs of their community. It is something our entire community can take pride in,” said North Vancouver District Mayor Richard Walton. “The work is ongoing as we continue to seek best practices and learn from the experience of communities around the world.” Read more at:,,

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  • The tasks of the coordination entity/office may include preparation of awareness campaigns, coordination of risk assessments and disaster risk reduction plans, ensuring that resilience planning is part of the city´s development practices, preparation of strategies and projects for resource mobilization, and of tracking progress. Risk reduction planning should make the operations of all actors run more smoothly in the emergency and recovery phases