UNISDR head Robert Glasser speaking at the World Urban Forum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
By Denis McClean
KUALA LUMPUR, 11 February, 2018 - Cities and towns attending the World Urban Forum were urged at the weekend to join UNISDR’s Making Cities Resilient Campaign which now has over 3,800 adherents representing almost one billion people in urban centres around the world.
Separately, the Campaign Steering Committee met Sunday in Kuala Lumpur to discuss strategy and agreed to reconvene later this year to consider how to manage the Campaign beyond 2020 when it is expected to have reached at least 5,000 members.
“The Making Cities Resilient Campaign is very much about giving people hope of a better future in an urban environment which is inclusive and sustainable,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mr. Robert Glasser in a high-level session on urban resilience where he called for more cities to join up.
Linking the Campaign with the overall 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Mr. Glasser said: “The road to achieving the SDGs runs through our towns and cities and millions travel on it every day in the hope that it will lead to a better, safer future for them and their children.
“The Making Cities Resilient Campaign is also about developing a greater understanding of the role that cities can play in eradicating poverty by avoiding the creation of informal settlements in disaster prone locations, and by providing basic services and infrastructure to people who live in vulnerable circumstances.”
Mr. Glasser drew attention to the fact that poverty and exposure are decisive elements in disaster mortality, injury and sickness, especially so in cities and towns where land use regulations and building codes are not respected. He recalled that the Campaign was launched in 2010 at a moment in history when, for the first time, more people were living in urban centres than in the countryside.
The Campaign’s Ten Essentials or actions for resilience map directly against the global plan for reducing disaster losses, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and its targets and indicators for measuring reductions in disaster losses.
He drew attention to the fact that print copies of the Campaign’s Handbook for Local Government Leaders was being distributed at the Forum for the first time since it had been revised. The Campaign’s Handbook was updated last year and serves as a guide on how to organize at the city level for disaster resilience and how to apply adequate financial and other resources to the challenges which the exercise of completing the Campaign’s Disaster Resilience Scorecard might reveal.
The Scorecard provides a set of assessments that allow local governments to monitor and review progress and challenges in managing risk and reducing disaster losses. Along with partners including UN-Habitat, ICLEI, UCLG, the Humana Foundation and Resurgence, UNISDR is working with 200 local governments on utilizing the Disaster Resilience Scorecard to develop a base-line understanding of their disaster resilience and to identify actions to be taken for improvement.
The Campaign also promotes greater understanding of current and future risks and exposure through use of the Quick Risk Estimation Tool which encourages multi-stakeholder engagement.
One of the most important developments in the Campaign’s latest phase has been the emphasis on implementation, city-to-city learning and sharing of experiences. Mr. Sanjay Bhatia of UNISDR told another session on international collaboration that this happens on a regular basis through the training courses run for city officials at UNISDR’s Global Education and Training Institute, also known as GETI, in Incheon, Korea.
Last month GETI welcomed officials from 20 major cities including capitals such as Khartoum, Ulaanbaatar, Kathmandu, Dhaka, Guatemala City, Tegucigalpa and Santo Domingo. With the support of the European Commission, these officials representing cities with a combined population of more than 50 million, were able to meet for four days of training to work on their disaster risk reduction plans.
Mr. Bhatia who manages GETI said that this work is a major contribution towards implementing the New Urban Agenda, SDG11 on resilient cities and communities, and Target (e) of the Sendai Framework which has a 2020 deadline for a substantial increase in national and local disaster risk reduction strategies.