By Andy McElroy
Incheon - A new global capacity building initiative to strengthen resilience of cities around the world was launched today.
In a significant landmark for the thriving Making Cities Resilient Campaign of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), 25 high level city officials from seven countries began three days of practical discussions to hone Action Plans to boost their cities’ resilience.
The “Capacity Development for Making Cities Resilient” forum, hosted at UNISDR’s Global Education Training Institute (GETI), in Incheon, Republic of Korea, is in response to regular demand from municipalities.
“We see this as a first step to reinforce the great success of UNISDR’s Making Cities Resilient Campaign by answering a consistent call from our city partners to help them build their own capacity,” said the Head of the UNISDR Office for North East Asia and GETI, Sanjaya Bhatia.
The Director-General of the Korean National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Gyejo Kim, reaffirmed his government’s commitment to international partnership and learning.
“The Making Cities Resilient Campaign has seen municipalities from more than 100 countries working together to reduce disaster risk and the impact of climate change,” Mr. Kim said.
“City to city learning that shares knowledge and lessons learned has proved very valuable and enables us to work towards sustainable and practical outcomes that contribute to building resilience.”
One of the forum’s senior representatives is Mikayel Gharakeshishyan, the Mayor of Stepanavan, a city of 200,000 people in Armenia. “Our main hazards include earthquake, fire, strong wind, landslide, and hail but we aim to manage our city’s development – including as a sustainable centre for tourism – by addressing the disaster risk we face,” the Mayor said.
Mr Gharakeshishyan is the first mayor in Armenia to pilot a disaster risk assessment on which his city’s resilience action plan will be based. “Education is always a power, with this we can confront the challenges that we face,” he said.
Thirteen municipalities are represented at the forum: Makati City, Muntinlupa City, Pasig City and Quezon City (Philippines); Probolinggo Municipality, Indonesia; Stepanavan City, Armenia; and Incheon City, Seoul City, Uijeongbu City, Sangju City, Bonghwa County, Wanju County, Yeoncheon County (Republic of Korea).
Also in attendance are the Executive Director of CEPREDENAC (a regional intergovernmental organization in Central America), and representatives from the National Emergency Management Agency, Mongolia; the Asia Pacific CITYNET secretariat, based in Republic of Korea; the Trilateral Cooperation Secretariat (for inter-governmental relations between China, Japan and Republic of Korea) also based in Republic of Korea; COPECO disaster risk management organization, based in Honduras; and UN Habitat Asia Pacific.
The Making Cities Resilient Campaign was launched in May 2010 to address issues of local governance and urban risk. The campaign currently comprises 1,713 cities that are working to implement the initiative’s Ten Essentials, a list of priorities for building and maintaining a disaster resilient city.
The workshop, organized by UNISDR, was supported by NEMA and the City of Incheon. “Both of our main Korean partners are providing their knowledge and financial support to build a critical mass of disaster risk management professionals at the municipality level across the world, who are implementing action plans to make their cities more resilient,” GETI head Mr Bhatia said.