Cities advocates embrace Sendai Framework

Ricardo Mena, Head of UNISDR’s Regional Office for the Americas (left, with microphone), leads a session at the Making Cities Resilient gathering in Panama City (Photo: UNISDR)
By Biljana Markova

PANAMA CITY, 17 August 2015 – The global advocates network of UNISDR’s Making Cities Resilient campaign has embraced the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and committed to scale up efforts at the local level.

A flagship project launched by UNSIDR five years ago to generate momentum for the reduction of urban risk, Making Cities Resilient (MCR) has grown into a global network of almost 2,700 communities and is still expanding.

The Sendai Framework, a 15-year international roadmap for curbing disaster mortality and economic losses, was adopted in March at the Third UN World Conference for Disaster Risk Reduction. Conference participants also agreed to extend MCR to 2020 and increase its awareness-raising and implementation activities significantly.

“Advocates are crucially important for our regions, and their contribution in implementing the Making Cities Resilient campaign in the coming years is instrumental. With the adoption of the Sendai Framework, local governments have become even more at the centre of the efforts for building resilience to disasters, and advocates will be our partners in achieving our ambitious goals at the local level,” said Ricardo Mena, Head of UNISDR’s Regional Office for the Americas, which hosted of the first global meeting of MCR advocates.

Over a period of three days, 20 MCR advocates and UNISDR staff came together from 18 countries across Africa, the Americas, Arab States, Asia and Europe to discuss new steps to support implementation of the Sendai Framework. Topics included means for increasing the number of participating cities, supporting local governments in conducting risk assessments, and achieving the Sendai Framework’s target to significantly increase the number of cities and local governments with DRR and resilience strategies by 2020.

The core of MCR is self-assessment of risk according to a series of benchmarks known as the Ten Essentials. Areas under scrutiny include a city’s budget, how critical infrastructure is handled, policies to ensure all members of the community are included in risk planning, the safety of schools and health facilities, risk-compliant building regulations and land use, protection of ecosystems, and early warning systems.

“We have a big task in front of us, but we can do it. We will continue to spread the word and the motto of disaster risk reduction one community at a time,” said Henry Peralta from Cali, Colombia.

“We need more partnerships on the local level, especially when it comes to technical support from the scientific community,” said Violeta Seva, from the Philippines capital Manila.

Fellow MCR advocate Alexander Mirescu, a political science professor at Saint Peter’s University in New Jersey, United States, underlined that education, especially at an early age, is the cornerstone of a culture of resilience. And Abdou Sané, from Senegal’s capital Dakar, cited institutional capacity-building as an important factor for the successful implementation of the Sendai Framework at city level.

“National-local dialogue is crucial for success at the community level, and for the implementation of the Sendai Framework at all levels”, said Marcelo Sabanes, from Spain’s Canary Islands. Financing was identified by Khaled Abuaisheh, from Aqaba, Jordan as the single-most important service to local governments to be provided by the Resilient Cities Connect initiative, which was launched at the Sendai conference to help MCR communities work together.

Worldwide, UNISDR counts over 40 MCR advocates, chosen for the experience, interest and outreach that helps them to promote urban disaster resilience in their spheres of influence – in their home communities and broader regions alike.

An advocate needs to demonstrate knowledge in the field of disaster risk reduction overall, and the Ten Essentials in particular. Together with campaign partners, public and private institutions, local and national authorities, advocates play an active role in advancing campaign messages, reporting on progress, providing policy recommendations, sharing knowledge and promoting city-to-city learning and collaboration.


VI Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas, Cartagena, Colombia 20-22 June 2018 VI Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas, Cartagena, Colombia 20-22 June 2018.
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