New Delhi, India – From the 2004 tsunami to devastating earthquakes in China and Pakistan to recurring floods in Bangladesh, Asia is one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world.
Mayors and local government leaders from more than 100 South Asian cities will be invited at a regional launch event in New Delhi on 8 June 2010 to sign up to the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) campaign, Making Cities Resilient: My City is Getting Ready . The event is being hosted by the National Institute of Disaster Management (NIDM), SAARC Disaster Management Centre and the Indian Ministry of Urban Development.
Among the cities expected to join the campaign are New Delhi and Mumbai (India), Dhaka (Bangladesh), Karachi (Pakistan), Kathmandu (Nepal), Kabul (Afghanistan), Colombo (Sri Lanka), Thimphu (Bhutan) and Male (Maldives).
“One of the significant challenges faced by urban areas is to improve their resilience against disasters,” said Jaipal Reddy, Indian Minister of Urban Development. “This can only happen if the capacity of the communities, infrastructure, resources and governance mechanisms are enhanced to cope with such disasters.”
The two-year campaign is targeting more than 1,000 local government leaders worldwide to commit to sustainable development practices that increase their cities’ resilience to disasters and to take the necessary steps to put in place much-needed disaster risk reduction plans.
“Urban risk reduction is an opportunity that cities and their populations cannot afford to miss,” said Margareta Wahlström, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction. “I encourage all cities to join and take an active role in the campaign so that our cities and urban centres can become safer today and for generations to come.”
The campaign proposes a checklist of Ten Essentials for Making Cities Resilient that can be implemented by mayors and local governments. This includes improving urban planning, infrastructure and building safety; reinforcing drainage systems to reduce flood, storm and health threats; installing early warning systems; conducting public preparedness drills; and taking measures to adapt to the increasing impacts of climate change.
“A city and its citizens can benefit greatly from the opportunities presented by urban risk reduction actions,” added Margareta Wahlström. “When successfully mobilized, resilient cities may benefit from growth and employment, business opportunities, balanced ecosystems, better health and improved education.”
Since its global launch on 30 May 2010, 21 cities have already signed up to the campaign, including Bonn, Mexico City, Port-au-Prince, Tehran, Masshad and Durban.
UNISDR is the overall coordinator of the 2010-2011 World Disaster Reduction Campaign. UN agencies, including UN-HABITAT, WHO and UNICEF are key partners, along with a number of city associations and organizations.
For more information about the campaign, visit: www.unisdr.org/campaign and www.preventionweb.net