Resurgence and its regional partner, the Arab Urban Institute (AUDI), have just spent an intensive week in Incheon, South Korea, working with the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and 20 pioneering cities that have been developing Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Plans based on ground reality risks and needs.
The week allowed the cities, ranging from Khartoum (Sudan), Dhaka North (Bangladesh) to Honiara (Solomon Islands) to feed back on their experience of using the UNISDR Disaster Resilience Scorecard that AUDI and Resurgence have been deploying in 20 Arab cities.
Through the week’s interactive sessions at the UNISDR’s Global Education Training Institute (GETI) at the heart of Songdo, Korea’s flagship smart city district, the urban heads of civil contingency and DRR generated a set of ground level priorities that will be fed into a revisioning process for UNISDR’s Making Cities Resilient Campaign.
These priorities include:
- Increasing access to and provision for financing with city level DRR programmes
- Targeted training and capacity development across areas such as risk analysis and risk informed urban planning
- Building skills in risk communication and community engagement
- Capacity building in data collection, and the practice of open data for DRR
- Reinforcing city and national policy and investment linkages
- Mainstreaming DRR into wider economic and social development programmes
- Promoting city-to-city learning fora and exchange initiatives
- Incorporating climate risk analysis and mitigation across all aspects of city DRR planning
‘Our Arab city members face some very tough challenges. Nouakchott, the capital city of Mauritania, for instance, faces the triple challenge of desert encroachment, ocean storm surges and surface flooding’ said Nuha Eltinay, AUDI’s Director of Planning and Sustainability. ‘However, the Arab cities group in Incheon confirmed its willingness to pool ideas and resources, and to work concertedly with UNISDR to create city and systems-wide ways of tackling them.’
A particular leitmotif of the week was the imperative to abandon silo-based approaches to reducing risk and vulnerability. ‘We should abandon our sectoral egos in order to build the resilience we urgently need in our cities,’ was how the delegation from Cilacap Regency, Indonesia put it.
According to Mark Harvey, Resurgence, the unpredictable play-out of climate breakdown calls for new ways of tackling emerging threats to urban centres. ‘We need to nurture horizontal leadership. We should support the ability of city officials not to manage vertically (upwards and downwards in hierarchies), but rather to manage across all kinds of stakeholders to create the inclusive kind of city risk management systems that we urgently need.’
Ultimately, a connected and open mindset that convenes all actors is the only way to bear down on the complex, morphing nature of risk that cities are hosting. In Incheon, UNISDR gave a very good glimpse of this new kind of leadership in action.