unisdrReducing the risks posed by natural and man-made hazards will be critical to keep cities around the globe on a sustainable development track, according to delegates preparing the way for the UN’s Habitat III conference on urbanization.
Hundreds of representatives of city and central governments, civil society, academia and other groups gathered recently in Surabaya, Indonesia, to focus on the draft New Urban Agenda, due to be finalized at the October summit in Ecuador and set to drive sustainable urbanization for years to come.
The latest version includes a pledge that governments will strengthen city resilience, reduce vulnerabilities and risk and integrate disaster risk reduction into urban development plans.
The agenda will be the latest in a series of interlocking international agreements on sustainability struck since 2015. The first, adopted in March last year, was the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Urban areas are a major emphasis of the Sendai Framework, a 15-year blueprint on curbing global disaster deaths, the number of people affected and the scale of economic losses.
As population magnets and economic drivers, cities are particularly vulnerable to increasingly frequent and extreme weather hazards such as storms, climate change impacts including water shortages, environmental degradation and unsafe construction in seismic zones.
UNISDR’s 2015 Global Assessment Report underlined that 60 percent of urban buildings and infrastructure set to be on the planet by 2030 still remains to be constructed. That makes all the more important the commitment in the draft New Urban Agenda to promote the development of infrastructure that is resilient and which will reduce the risks and impact of disasters, especially in slums and informal settlements. “Managing risk and ensuring that risk reduction is embedded in the urban land use plan are important considerations to make cities a safer place – all starts small around the corner with the people”, said Mr. Jan van Zanen, Mayor of Utrecht in the Netherlands.
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