Sustainable Cities: Urban Safety and Security: Taking Responsibility
The dialogue was moderated by Ms. Anna-Maria Tremonti, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. The panellists were Mr. Ian Davis, Visiting Professor, Cranfield University, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; Ms. Elina Palm, Liaison Officer, United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction; Dr. Mark Pelling, Senior Lecturer, Department of Geography, King’s College, London; Dr. Pushpa Pathak, Urban Planning and Policy Advisor, Kabul Municipality; Ms. Suranjana Gupta, Programme Associate, Women and Disaster Reduction Campaign of the Huairou Commission; Ms. Prema Gopalan, Global Facilitator, Women and Disaster Reduction Campaign of the Huairou Commission; Mr. Yoshinobu Fukasawa, Director of Planning, National and Regional Planning Bureau, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, Japan; Dr. Franz Vanderschueren, Director, Urban Safety Programme, University of Urtado, Chile; Dr. Juan Manuel Ospina, Secretary of the Government of Colombia; Mr. Kamal Kashyap, former Director-General of Police, Maharashtra State, India; Dame Carol Kidu, Ministry of Community Development and Urban Member of Parliament, Papua New Guinea; Mr. Michel Marcus, Executive Director, European Forum for Urban Safety, France; Ms. Yasmin Bacus, Head of Department of Community Safety and Liaison, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa; Mr. Clayton Peters, International Projects Manager, YouthBuild USA/International; Mr. Thomas Melin, Head of Division for Urban development, Sida; and Ms. Maryvonne Plessis-Fraissard, Director, Transport and Urban Development, World Bank.
Two key constraints were identified to human security, sustainable settlements and achieving the Millennium Development Goals: disasters, and growing crime and violence in towns and cities. Although inherently different, both disaster risk reduction and crime prevention required a holistic and multi-partner approach. They also required the empowerment of national and local governments, civil society and vulnerable groups. It was agreed that the key was to find sustainable responses to reduce risk and vulnerability. For disasters, that entailed reducing risks and vulnerability. For crime and violence, the emphasis must be on prevention and tackling the underlying causes. It was becoming increasingly evident that the way those concerns were integrated into urban development approaches and initiatives would to a large extent determine the sustainability of our urban future.
Disaster risk reduction
From the debate the message became clear that while efforts to mitigate risk were increasing in some areas, the high rate of urbanization, combined with environmental factors such as climate change and environmental degradation, were continuing to increase risk and vulnerability globally. There was a need, therefore, to review urban development, land use and physical planning to create safe spaces in the urban landscape.
Many disasters occurred as a result of unregulated development activities, where natural habitats such as forests, mountain slopes and coastal areas were exploited in a manner that increased the vulnerabilities of surrounding settlements. Although the corporate ethic was improving in some cases, notably the recent role of large corporations in responding to the Asian tsunami, a greater momentum must be built within the private sector for responsible development that reduced vulnerability to hazards.
The world reacted to disasters primarily through media coverage that could be sensational. Therefore, a robust means of collecting, analysing and reporting hard data related to risk and vulnerability should be integrated into national, local and community-based policymaking and development planning initiatives. Tools drawn from high- to low-technology resources enhanced resilience at all levels. State actors needed, however, to improve dissemination and integration of those resources.
The importance of maintaining the pride and dignity of people recovering from calamity was often overlooked and should be built into the post-disaster recovery process. It was paramount in that regard to engage the local community, from faith-based to grassroots organizations, individuals to neighbourhoods. They needed to be involved from the outset through to the long term and in partnership and concert with local, national and international aid organizations. That was the only way sustainable prevention, mitigation, and response could work properly.
Many governments limited development planning horizons to coincide with their political cycles, resulting in maximum five-year planning loops that did not envisage investment and development beyond the electoral cycle. In 2005, 168 States had endorsed the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005–2015, (1) a guideline that committed those governments to reducing vulnerabilities to natural hazards through integrating disaster risk reduction into sustainable development policies and planning in the coming decade. There was a clear gap, however, between the endorsement and the action, which demanded increased political and budgetary commitment to implementation over the longer term.
It was clear that the cost of responding to the aftermath of disaster in human, physical and social terms far exceeded the financial burden of reducing those vulnerabilities; that message demanded far more commitment on the part of policymakers, aid agencies and all stakeholders.
The debate on crime prevention was opened by Dr. Vanderschueren, who outlined the progress of the past 20 years towards decentralization in safety management. That approach called for the participation of civil society and communities, considering safety as a basic service to be delivered to citizens in urban areas. He recalled the strong demand for safety coming especially from the urban poor and slum dwellers, who suffered more than anyone else from delinquency, violence and insecurity in cities and slums.
Ms. Plessis-Fraissard informed the meeting that the World Bank was changing policy and moving towards a more comprehensive approach, breaking away from the “silo mentality” in order to be more responsive to the requests of client countries. That should lead to better coordination of prevention and good urban governance programmes. Special attention should be given to the poor and vulnerable groups.
Mr. Melin said that global safety, youth violence and violence against women in particular had come to the top of the list of requests from countries, but was not yet on the development agenda. He insisted on the key role of mayors and local governments in finding short- and long-term responses to those challenges. More attention should be given to safety by donors and development agencies.
Dr. Ospina gave the example of his city, Bogotá, a place which used to be rife with violence and exclusion problems. He underlined the importance of reinforcing the conditions for an integrated social policy based on an inclusive approach, and of neighbourhood-specific diagnosis and action plans. New forms of community justice must be promoted and targeted partnerships must be developed with institutional and community based actors, including the informal sector. Encouraging results had emerged in various neighbourhoods of his city.
Dame Kidu spoke about the devastating impact of crime in Papua, New Guinea over the past five years and the need to depart from the traditional, reactive response of the criminal justice system. A new scheme based on strengthening communities, social inclusion and a shift from a culture of violence towards a culture of peace was being tested in the city.
Ms. Bacus, speaking in relation to her native South Africa, stressed the importance of developing and implementing policies that responded to the needs of women, children, youth and the elderly, in the context of participatory democracy. Instruments such as a National Victims’ Charter or a National Youth Commission were useful in supporting such policies. At the same time, the planning process at the local level must fully integrate safety and crime prevention. Specific tools such as safety audits for women must be used more widely.
Mr. Peters said that too much emphasis was put on law enforcement when discussing the issue of youth and violence. A more global approach was needed to foster the social and economic integration of youth, which must include specific measures for marginalized groups and a structured participatory process taking their needs into account in the planning, social and economic processes.
Mr. Kashyap emphasized the potential importance of partnership relations in order to develop police accountability and a relationship between the police and the population based on trust and collaboration. That required the establishment of partnerships with youth and women’s organizations, the promotion of traditional conflict-resolution processes, and a strategy to promote change in police organizations. In that connection, he called for more networking and discussion of successful partnerships.
Mr. Marcus said that the crisis of urban violence offered opportunities to review modes of intervention and institutional processes to develop more comprehensive long-term prevention approaches to crime and natural disasters. He suggested that urban security be given a higher profile at the next World Urban Forum.
Other points raised by participants included the impact of migration to cities, the importance of respecting human rights and the necessity to invest more in crime prevention. Increasing gangsterism was becoming entrenched in many cities and towns. Women and children needed to be empowered to avoid being drawn into gangs. Early intervention with vulnerable families, children and young people was seen as an investment. Some participants expressed the view that local policies should be linked with national policies. Others raised concern about the crime, violence, fraud, trafficking of people, organized crime and delinquency that flourished in the aftermath of disasters. Legislation must be developed to prevent those phenomena in post-disaster situations. Many participants called for an integrated approach towards prevention and good governance.
The dialogue made the following actionable recommendations:
That the focus of prevention was becoming broader, for which an integrated strategy was essential, based on reinforcing partnerships and cooperation elements;
That local authorities and communities themselves should have a more prominent role in security and vulnerability reduction;
That local policies on safety must link with national policies and approaches;
That sustainability could be achieved by strengthening and supporting community initiatives from the bottom up and by promoting ownership, partnership and networking: the costs of failure to involve communities were far higher than when communities were involved;
That livelihood development was key to safety, security and risk reduction and investment in social policy and development promoted safety;
That mainstreaming safety and crime prevention into integrated local development plans was a social tool for community development;
That the focus should be on the poor and most vulnerable groups;
That youth policies should be integrated policies, with emphasis on participation, livelihood opportunities and targeted interventions for vulnerable young people;
That a generational change of attitudes to safety was required;
That security and development were interlinked and that security was a human rights issue;
That crime, violence and insecurity should be placed at the top of the development agenda;
That mayors should commit themselves to the safety agenda.
The dialogue concluded also that the vulnerability of people in settlements to natural hazards and crime signalled the failure of society to govern itself in a manner that addressed the root causes of those problems. A paradigm shift was therefore required to address the many common elements of both those threats to human security. There was a need for an integrated approach to crime and disaster management whereby the two problems were treated holistically in policy terms, preferably before crises occurred. At the same time, because of the need to achieve better integration of crime prevention within the urban development agenda, and bring in new, relevant partners, UN-Habitat must give security more prominence on the road to the Fourth Session of the World Urban Forum, in 2008.
1. Report of the World Conference on Disaster Reduction, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan, 18–22 January 2005 (A/CONF.206/6 and Corr.1), resolution 2.