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Protecting Mediterranean cities from the risk of disasters

Source(s):  Euro-Mediterranean Partnership Programme on Prevention, Preparedness and Response to Natural and Man-made Disasters (PPRD South)

Press release:

29 representatives of the national civil protection authorities and important municipalities of the PPRD South Programme Partner Countries are meeting in Lisbon, Portugal, on 15-19 October 2012, together with EU and UN disaster risk management experts to discuss how to better assess disasters risk in Mediterranean cities and, consequently, how to enhance urban community’s ability to respond and recover from disasters.

During the first two days of the event, taking advantage of the recent initiatives of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) campaign “Making cities resilient”, participants are reviewing and analysing the different aspects of resilience of Mediterranean urban communities and explore how to enhance their capacities to absorb stress or destructive forces through resistance or adaptation.

The following three days will be dedicated to illustrate and put in practice the results of two EU-funded research projects on new methods for assessing the risk from multiple hazards in urban areas: MATRIX (New Multi-Hazard and Multi-Risk Assessment Methods for Europe) and ENSURE (Enhancing resilience of communities and territories facing natural and na-tech Hazards). Workshop participants will apply the MATRIX and ENSURE approaches to two big Euro-Mediterranean cities exposed to multiple risks: Lisbon which was destroyed in 1755 by a sequence of earthquake-tsunami-urban fire and Istanbul which is highly exposed to earthquake, tsunami, floods, coastal flooding and technological hazards.

On 18 October event participants will make a study visits to the historical centre of Lisbon to understand the vulnerability factors which characterized Lisbon in 1755 and which increased the impact of the great earthquake/tsunami/fire which destroyed the city. The visit, which is organized by the Portuguese National Civil Protection Authority, will also focus on the factors which were taken into consideration while rebuilding the city and on the new solutions adopted for urban planning.

The UNEP/MAP Blue Plan highlights that in the countries bordering the Mediterranean two out of three inhabitants already live in cities and by 2030, three quarters of the Mediterranean population will be urban. UNISDR considers that rapid urban growth poses many challenges to city authorities and if not well managed, uncontrolled urban sprawl and insufficient land use planning can exacerbate the vulnerability of Mediterranean cities.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s "special report on extreme weather", cities of Southern Europe, Mediterranean region and Central Europe are among the most vulnerable areas for climate change induced heavier rainfall, storms and droughts. The number of adverse meteorological events is projected to increase in the future as well as their strength and duration. The sea level is projected to rise putting at risk densely inhabited coastal areas. Even if seismic and tsunami events are not projected to increase, their impact is projected to become stronger due to population growth, larger urban settlements and potential domino effects with critical infrastructures (industries, roads, airports, ports….).

The main results of this workshop will be published on the Programme web portal
For more information, please contact: Alessandro Candeloro, +39 349 0850931,

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  • Publication date 16 Oct 2012

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