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Making Cities Resilient: from awareness to implementation

s Helena Molin Valde
UNISDR, Geneva, Switzerland, and

Making Cities Resilient

Dilanthi Amaratunga and Richard Haigh

Centre for Disaster Resilience, University of Salford, Salford, UK
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to provide an update of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) campaign on Making Cities Resilient. Design/methodology/approach An opinion piece written by the Director a.i. of UNISDR and the Editors of the International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment. Findings The campaign will continue and the focus will shift to more implementation support, city-to-city learning and cooperation, local action planning and monitoring of progress in cities. Originality/value Continued advocacy will seek to commit more cities and increase the support by national governments to support city resilience and local capacities. Keywords Capability, Resilience, Government, The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), Disasters Paper type Viewpoint

The concept of resilience is now widely adopted across academic and policy debates as a way of reducing societys vulnerability to threats posed by natural and human induced hazards. The resilient city is a comparatively new term, but is now increasingly used in disaster related literature and policy documents. However, its theoretical base is less well developed. The resilient city can be dened in different ways. One such denition is that it is a sustainable network of physical systems (constructed and natural environmental components) and human communities (Godschalk, 2003). It can be further elaborated by identifying physical systems as built roads, buildings, infrastructure, communications, and energy facilities as well as waterways, soils, topography, geology, and other natural systems. Built environment acts as the core in every city and facilitates the everyday life of human beings. Any destruction to the built environment disturbs the functioning of the human society, and economic and social development of the country due to its strong connection with the human activities. Thus, achieving a resilient built environment is of paramount importance in achieving resilient cities. Local governments are the institutional level closest to the citizens and to their communities. They play the rst role in responding to crises and emergencies and in attending to the needs of their constituencies. They deliver essential services to their citizens (health, education, transport, water, etc.), which need to be made resilient to disasters. There is a need for national governments, local government associations, international, regional and civil society organisations, donors, the private sector, academia and professional associations, as well as every citizen to engage in the

International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment Vol. 4 No. 1, 2013 pp. 5-8 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 1759-5908 DOI 10.1108/17595901311299035


process of making cities safe from disasters. Cities and local governments need to get ready, reduce the risks and become resilient to disasters. The United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) campaigns together with its partners for this to happen. I call for the need of world leaders to address climate change and reduce the increasing risk of disasters and world leaders must include Mayors, townships and community leaders, stated UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in 2009 (Ban Ki-moon, 2009). UNISDR launched the Making Cities Resilient campaign My City is Getting Ready in 2010 with many partners engaged with cities and local development. This 2010-2015 World Disaster Reduction Campaign addresses issues of local governance and urban risk while drawing upon previous ISDR Campaigns on safer schools and hospitals, as well as on the sustainable urbanizations principles developed in the UN-Habitat World Urban Campaign 2009-2013. Making cities resilient to disasters is an opportunity to improve local governance, increase participation, and foster a culture of safety and sustainable urbanisation. The overall goal of the campaign is to achieve resilient, sustainable urban communities, with a growing number of local governments that are taking actions to reduce the risks to disasters, based on common standards and tools. One of the longer-term objectives is to empower local governments with stronger national policies to invest in risk reduction at a local level, as part of urban and regional development plans. A ten point checklist Essentials for Making Cities Resilient has been developed as the baseline of commitments for the local governments in the campaign. A local government self assessment tool based on these ten essential was developed and tested. A handbook for mayors to support this local action was nalised in collaboration with many of the participating cities and experts, guided by an advisory group for the campaign. Since then, more than a thousand cities and local governments have signed up to the campaign, with many hundreds more in the pipeline, far exceeding the targets set in 2010 to sign up 50 committed cities that take action and to reach out to a thousand. Many partners are supporting specic activities and local governments in the campaign, ranging from the main cities networks and organisations, including academia. The making cities resilient campaign My City is Getting Ready enters its second phase in 2013-2015. Based on the success and stock-taking by partners and participating cities in the rst phase (2010-2011), the brand will continue and the focus will shift to more implementation support, city-to-city learning and cooperation, local action planning and monitoring of progress in cities. In addition, continued advocacy will seek to commit more cities and increase the support by national governments to support city resilience and local capacities in large-scale, as well as global goals and targets to that extent. Focus areas of this stage of the campaign 2012-2015 include: . Know more and commit continue to foster awareness and advocacy among local governments with strong emphasis given also to the national level authorities (including national associations of local governments). . Invest wiser-build safer implementation capacity building: 2013-2015 will focus on moving the awareness in the already signed-up cities towards implementation. . Benchmarking and reporting.

This themed issue is a continuation of IJDRBEs relationship with the campaign. IJDRBE aims at developing the skills and knowledge of the built environment professions and will strengthen their capacity in strategic and practical aspects of making cities resilient to disasters. This themed issue will contribute to the knowledge of both theory and practice in making cities resilient to disasters, and is aimed at researchers and academics, policy makers and other professionals working with disaster prevention, mitigation, response and reconstruction responsibilities. Further, it aims at promoting: a stronger and more sustainable disaster risk reduction (DRR) and resilience academic and research community that leads to increased responsibility for reinforcing resilience to disasters; a dynamic forum for decision makers, partners, experts and practitioners to share information, promote campaigns, and provide evidence around DRR; and, directions and new alliances for the development and use of new tools and methodologies aimed at building resilience in communities, also addressing the key themes of the Global Platform for Disaster Reduction, Fourth Session, to be held in Geneva in 2013. This issue includes six research papers that contribute to the discussion on how to make cities more resilient. In the rst paper, Fuad Ali and Keith Jones offer tools to understand movement in the administrative architecture of adaptation, probing the associated inter-agency workings. It introduces the idea of the epistemic ecology to describe and explain the multiple kinds of knowledge employed by stakeholders in the adaptation scenario, and anticipates the impacts of localism and insurance policies currently in the pipeline. Yuki Matsuoka, Yukiko Takeuchi and Rajib Shaw review the challenges for DRR by local governments and local implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) as the global DRR guideline. Using a survey, they reviewed how multi-stakeholders involved in local DRR perceive these HFA 20 tasks, which revealed trends and gaps within their work. Gonzalo Lizarralde, Lisa Bornstein, Kevin Gould and Colin Davidson seek to add a new dimension to urban resilience by exploring how representations of disasters, reconstruction and human settlements are made, and how, by shaping plans and programs, they ultimately inuence resilience. Their study suggests that the representations that decision makers, institutions and organisations make of the world ultimately establish the framework in which resilience is constructed. In a similar vein, Barbara Lucini considers resilience from a sociological perspective and the notion of social capital, its proper features, dynamics and processes within different groups of people involved in a disaster process. The originality of this proposal in the eld of disaster resilience is its use of the sociological approach and its theoretical characteristics and instruments, such as, for example, the denitions of social capital. In the fth paper, Chamindi Malalgoda, Dilanthi Amaratunga and Richard Haigh explore the challenges associated with making a disaster resilient built environment within Sri Lankan cities. They identify weaknesses in the current institutional arrangements and consider the need to empower local government as a way of responding to challenges. In the nal paper, Saumyang Patel and Makarand Hastak propose a strategic framework that assists responsible entities to provide housing to the disaster victims in a short period of time, for example to construct 200 homes in 30 days after

Making Cities Resilient


disaster (representing a subdivision). The main objective of this research is to perform a feasibility study of implementing such a strategy that would enable agencies to provide better solutions for post disaster housing assistance. The issue concludes with three news articles linked to the campaign. The rst article Making Cities Resilient Report 2012: a global snapshot of how local governments reduce disaster risk provides details of a report by UNISDR and the International Institute for Environment and Development. The second article reports on details of guidance on resilience in urban planning. Finally, the issue includes the call for papers of the 2013 International Conference on Building Resilience, which will be held in association with the Making Cities Resilient campaign.
References Ban Ki-moon (2009), Building an alliance of local governments for disaster risk reduction, UN Secretary-General at the Incheon Conference, August. Godschalk, D.R. (2003), Urban hazard mitigation: creating resilient cities, ASCE, Vol. 4 No. 3, pp. 136-43. Corresponding author Richard Haigh can be contacted at:

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