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Subject Area: Built Environment
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Article citation: Richard Haigh, Dilanthi Amaratunga, (2012) "Making cities resilient", International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, Vol. 3 Iss: 2, pp. -
The second issue of the International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, published back in mid-2010, included a news article about a new global campaign on making cities resilient. The launch appeared timely. The earthquake that wreaked havoc on Port-au-Prince, Haiti, earlier that year, and the continuing fallout of volcanic ash from Iceland that paralysed large parts of Europe, reinforced the urgency for cities to take the necessary steps to put in place much-needed disaster reduction plans. At the same time, the campaign reinforced many of the principles that were advocated in the opening issue of this journal a few months earlier.
In a bid to strengthen our readiness to reduce disaster impacts, on 30 May 2010 in Bonn, Germany, the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) launched the campaign to raise awareness and boost commitment for sustainable development practices that will increase a city’s well-being and safety. With an initial two-year campaign, making cities resilient: my city is getting ready, urged leaders and local governments to commit to a checklist of ten essentials that would make their cities more resilient.
The UNISDR Secretariat was identified as the overall coordinator of the campaign. However, local, regional and international partners as well as participating cities and local governments were seen as the main drivers of the initiative. “Cities all over the world are looking for the best possible options for the future of their citizens and economies,” said Mayor Jürgen Nimptsch of Bonn, Germany. “The way to secure this future is through resilience. The more cities and citizens that are prepared, the greater the chances are for disaster reduction.”
Nimptsch, as well as leaders from five other cities – Mexico City, Mexico; Saint Louis, Senegal; Karlstad, Sweden; Larreynaga-Malpaisillo, Nicaragua; and Albay, the Philippines – were the first to sign up and commit to one or more of the ten essentials at the campaign launch. At the time, the stated aim of the campaign – to enlist over 1,000 local government leaders worldwide to invest more in disaster risk reduction (DRR) – seemed remote.
It is therefore pleasing to see that as of April 2012, nearly two years after the launch, 1,019 cities have now signed up to the campaign. For those interested, www.unisdr.org/campaign/resilientcities/cities provides details of those cities. Perhaps even more encouraging, it has also been announced that with the support and recommendation of many partners and participants, and a Mayors statement made during the 2011 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, the making cities resilient campaign will carry on beyond 2015. The campaign organisers have evidently recognised that the required investment in DRR will take time, even for those cities that have committed to the campaign, and in doing so to improving urban planning, infrastructure and building safety; reinforcing drainage systems to reduce flood, storm and health threats; installing early warning systems; conducting public preparedness drills; and taking measures to adapt to the increasing impacts of climate change.
Based on the success and stock-taking by partners and participating cities in the first phase, the campaign will continue and shift its focus to more implementation support, city-to-city learning and cooperation, local action planning and monitoring of progress in cities. In addition, the campaign will continue to advocate widespread commitment by local governments to build resilience to disasters and increased support by national governments to cities for the purpose of strengthening local capacities.
This journal will continue to engage with and support the campaign during the years ahead. Indeed, a special issue of the journal on the themes associated with the campaign and edited by Helena Molin Valdés, the Director of the “making cities resilient” campaign, will be published in early 2013. However, this issue also includes news of some important developments associated with the campaign.
Helena Molin Valdés reports on news of a “How to make cites more resilient: handbook for local government leaders”, a contribution to the campaign. This Handbook is designed primarily for local government leaders and policy makers to support public policy, decision making and organisation as they implement DRR and resilience activities. It offers practical guidance to understand and take action on the “Ten essentials for making cities resilient”. The Handbook is built on a foundation of knowledge and expertise of campaign partners, participating cities and local governments.
The issue also includes news that the European Commission’s Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency is to boost disaster preparedness in European cities by turning higher education institutes into reliable partners to reduce society’s vulnerability to hazards. The newly-funded €790,000 project, called the Academic Network for Disaster Resilience to Optimise Educational Development (ANDROID), will run for three years and is led by the University of Salford’s Centre for Disaster Resilience. The project’s teaching and research is concerned with what resilience is, what it means to society, and how societies might achieve greater resilience in the face of increasing threats from natural and human induced hazards. A consortium of inter-disciplinary and inter-sectorial partners from 64 European higher education institutes, local and national government and international organisations, are working on the project. They are joined by three non-European institutions from Australia, Canada and Sri Lanka. UNISDR has taken part in developing the project proposal and will be an active partner in delivering the project outputs. The project will also be closely aligned with the “making cities resilient” campaign, with partners engaged to support cities in implementing the checklist of ten essentials that will make their cities more resilient.
Alongside news of these developments associated with the campaign, the issue also includes five insightful research articles, a book review and a doctoral abstract. Opening the issue, Nirupama offers an integrated approach for risk and vulnerability assessment. The proposed approach: Risk(R) = Hazard(H) × Vulnerability(V) × Community Perception(cp), provides a unique and comprehensive approach to evaluate disaster risk by taking people’s perception into account.
In the second paper, Ruwanpura, Wickramaratne, Ranasinghe, Adikariwattage, and Wirasinghe propose a methodology for a priori classification of natural disasters that occur in Sri Lanka, through the development of a set of weighted parameters based on the product of the disaster impact and the affected area, in order to prepare mitigation plans. The study emphasises the importance of the consideration of the area impacted rather than the classification, which is based solely on the severity of the impact. The categorization of disasters based on experts’ opinions and the related analysis revealed a priority order for planning for certain identified disasters.
The third paper, by Abolvardi, Mahdavinejad, Bemanian and Abolvardi, attempts to explain a proper state for the seismic consideration of architectural non-structural components (ANSCs) in the design and construction process. They found that in most cases, the executed details are allocated to a minor part of the design process or left to be chosen in the last stage of construction, as finishing details. As a result, despite all code provisions and practical guidelines, they conclude that much damage arises to and from ANSCs.
In the fourth article, Tilotta, Bencze and Dasmohapatra present the basic concepts and methodology for an improved system for rating the resilience of homes against natural disaster perils. This system is referred to as the resilient scoring utility (ReScU) framework. The framework is designed with four key operational features, including an output that can be tied to incentives, the use of performance-based evaluation criteria, utilization of “threshold” adjustments for the location of homes, and adaptability to new technologies, perils, and non-perils.
In the final research paper, Djalante and Thomalla propose a conceptual framework for integrating DRR and climate change adaptation (CCA) in managing climate-related risks. They propose a need to re-orientate the institutional arrangements for DRR and CCA to increase the effectiveness of planning and implementation, and that activities need to be strongly supported at the local level with a specific aim to reduce the underlying causes of vulnerability of communities at risk. Finally, they emphasise that non-government organisations play a very important role in integrating DRR and CCA through community-based initiatives.
Korstanje contributes a review of “Risk and reason, safety, law and the environment” by Sunstein, C. Buenos and the issue also includes a doctoral abstract, which is Schofield’s study into the role of stakeholders in building self-sustaining capacity in housing development projects in marginalised communities. The study has a particular focus on the Odi and Kaduna South communities in Nigeria.
Richard Haigh, Dilanthi Amaratunga