The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Dr. Joan Clos co-hosted a mayors' lunch during the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva on 22 May, with noting concern the increasing trend globally of diminishing finance for local authorities combined with increasing demand arising from urbanisation defines a 'perfect storm' for urban failures.
The lunch was attended by 40 mayors and city officials from the UNISDR's Making Cities Resilient Campaign.
Recognizing participating Mayors' concerns on increasing vulnerability, capacity gaps for integrating risk reduction and resilience planning, among other critical concerns, Dr. Clos encouraged the mayors to take advantage of the Global Platform to send a bold message through their national representatives to the World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR) in 2015, the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) dialogues, and to the Habitat III Conference in 2016, demanding a stronger role in a renewed Hyogo Framework for Action, sustainable urban development goals, and a revised Habitat Agenda.
Among the new cities to sign up to the Campaign and its Ten Essentials for Making Cities Resilient framework during the Global Platform were Amadora, Portugal; Cetinje, Montenegro; Lezhe, Albania; and Wellington, New Zealand. In addition, the Mayor of Mashhad, Iran, Seyed Mohammad Pezhman, was recognized as a Campaign Champion for his efforts to promote disaster risk reduction and further increase the resilience of communities through, among other actions, the renovation of many schools, hospitals and mosques, and the establishment of a dedicated Disaster Management Department—making the city of Mashhad the first major city in Iran with more than 500, 000 inhabitants to establish such a department.
Recognizing the new signatories, Helena Molin Valdes, UNISDR Deputy Director and Chief of the Making Cities Resilient Campaign, said: "The large representation of Mayors and local governments during this Global Platform evidences the political will and important role of local leaders in building the resilience of communities to disasters, particularly in the face of rapid urbanization."
Dr. Clos stressed that urbanisation is advancing very fast, more people are at risk and the number of casualties and affected people in cases of disasters is increasing. He said that the challenge of addressing disasters in developed countries is that there is a tendency of diminishing resources, and countries abandon services of maintaining infrastructure in case of a disaster whereas in developing countries, the challenge is lack of urban planning or weak urban planning.
Cassidy Johnson, Professor at the University College London, noted that there is a consensus by cities that more work need to be done, and cities need more information on disaster management.
Frederick Frisell, programme manager at the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency presented how the organization assists other actors, such as the national disaster management agencies, to function and respond in case of a disaster.
Maíta Fernández, in charge of urban resilience at the Barcelona City Council presented the city of Barcelona as an example of innovation in urban resilience.
Dan Neely, the manager of community resilience at Wellington City Council in New Zealand presented their community resilience function which deals with societal and emergency resilience. This is being done through adapting community engagement principles in building community resilience, and by developing user-specific tools for its partners.
For more information, visit http://www.unisdr.org/campaign/resilientcities/