Sanjaya Bhatia, UNISDR and Manuel Valdes, Barcelona City Council, speaking at the opening of Barcelona Resilience Week
By Jeanette Elsworth
Barcelona, 13 November 2018 – Barcelona Resilience Week, a week of events and debates dedicated to sharing and advancing resilience best practice, has kicked off with speakers highlighting a shift in thinking in recent years about how to approach the question of resilience.
Manuel Valdes, Deputy Manager of Infrastructure and Urban Coordination at host city Barcelona’s City Council, explained that resilience was no longer a political decision but the right way forward.
“It used to be that we carried out dedicated resilience programmes,” he said, speaking at the opening ceremony. “But we have moved into a new phase [in which] any transformational project that we do must include resilience.”
Mr Valdes’ comments illustrate a trend in which development practitioners are increasingly recognising the link between the best practice guidance of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction – the global roadmap for reducing disaster loss – and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Although well advanced on this path of thinking, evidence suggests that Barcelona is not the only city taking this route. Sanjaya Bhatia, speaking on behalf of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) said: “When we talk about resilience, reducing disaster risk is a key component. Many mayors are now asking how they can include resilience in their work.”
Among the speakers, there was a distinct focus on urban resilience, with the recognition that our growing planet is increasingly urban.
Lars Gronvald, Head of Cities Section at the European Commission DEVCO, emphasised that cities are not only where the impacts of disasters are felt.
“Cities are where we can find many solutions,” said Mr Gronvald. “Advancing advocacy, tools and data – this is the foundation of the work that needs to be done.”
Barcelona Resilience Week, hosted by Barcelona City Council and UN-Habitat, continues with a programme of debates and site visits and merges with the Smart Cities World Expo.