Addressing climate challenges: Dubai hosts the first Global Urban Resilience Forum and unveils the Urban Resilience Action on Climate Change.

Source(s): United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - Regional Office for Arab States
Global Urban Resilience Forum

Dubai, 6 October 2023 – Against the backdrop of escalating climate-related disasters, the Global Urban Resilience Forum brought together leaders, experts, and stakeholders from around the world. The 2-day event, organized by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) and hosted by Dubai Police, tackled the urgent need to strengthen urban resilience in the face of a changing climate.

Over the past three decades, extreme weather events have been responsible for 90% of all disasters. These events, from devastating storms and coastal flooding to deadly heatwaves and prolonged droughts, are affecting cities and communities worldwide. 

With over 150 VIP delegates, 500 attendees, and 35 speakers from across the globe, the forum served as a platform for collaborative discussions, knowledge-sharing, and the development of strategies to address the mounting challenges presented by climate change in urban areas.

Central to the forum's discussions was Making Cities Resilient 2030 (MCR2030), a cross-stakeholder initiative dedicated to enhancing urban resilience through advocacy, knowledge exchange, city-to-city learning networks, technical expertise, and partnerships. Recognizing cities as "Resilience Hubs" when they achieve a high level of resilience and actively share best practices with others is a hallmark of this initiative.

“This Forum seeks to work with and through the UNDRR-led Making Cities Resilient 2030 global partnership – also known as MCR2030 – to strengthen individual and collective commitments to support more local governments to reduce their climate risk,” Mami Mizutori, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Head of UNDRR, highlighted in her address.

The global network of Resilience Hubs counts 25 member cities. In 2020, Dubai, leading by example, assumed the pioneering role as the world's first Resilience Hub. Following in its footsteps, Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt, set its commitment to this endeavor during the COP27 conference in 2022.

Now, three years on, the resilient Dubai has taken a significant stride by hosting a pioneering global forum, which came as a testament to the critical role that local governments play in mitigating the impacts of climate change and disasters.

The forum commenced with an opening ceremony featuring distinguished speakers, including Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion, and Mami Mizutori, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and Head of UNDRR.

“This gathering today reflects the type of collaboration we need to ensure we are prepared before we are faced with the challenges, to allow us to respond in an efficient and coordinated manner during emergencies and to recover as quickly and with the minimum damage as possible,” emphasized Al Mubarak.

High-level panel discussions on the path to urban resilience included prominent figures such as Major General Khaled Fouda, Governor of South Sinai, Gino Van Begin, Secretary General of Local Governments for Sustainability, Patricia McCarney, President and CEO of the World Council on City Data, Dr. Mehmet Duman, Secretary General of the United Cities and Local Governments, Middle East and West Asia Section, and Dr. Nehal Hefny, Deputy Regional Director of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, MENA region.

Lieutenant General Abdullah Khalifa Al Marri, Commander in Chief of Dubai Police, emphasized the importance of resilience policy in managing the intricate risks and hazards associated with climate change. “Securing local scenarios is a vital requirement for disaster recovery but, unfortunately, one that has often been overlooked. It’s now time to ensure security is an inherent element of disaster recovery.”

The forum featured a diverse range of thematic sessions, each delving into critical aspects of urban resilience. These sessions covered topics such as climate-resilient urban systems, the intersection of displacement and climate resilience, strategies for investing in climate resilience, the significance of data-driven decision-making in bolstering resilient cities, the financial aspects including investments, bonds, and financing for resilient infrastructure, ensuring vulnerable cities' access to essential resources like water, food, and energy, and exploring innovative approaches and solutions to urban risk reduction.

The Forum's primary objective was to spotlight the pivotal role of local governments and acknowledge their invaluable contributions to strengthening urban resilience. It achieved resounding success by convening Resilience Hubs, cities, partners, and stakeholders from across the globe, fostering insightful discussions on shared challenges and enhancing city resilience in the context of rapid urbanization and climate change. 

This dynamic exchange of ideas facilitated constructive and forward-thinking dialogues, resulting in a tangible and impactful outcome – actionable recommendations for “Urban Resilience Action on Climate Change.” It emphasizes the need for comprehensive strategies, and the commitment of 40 cities from around the globe to creating cities that are not just capable of withstanding climate-related shocks, but are also adaptive, sustainable, and inclusive. The recommendations spanned critical domains, including risk governance, collaboration with the private sector, investment in urban solutions, data-driven resilience, the synergy between disaster risk reduction and climate action, addressing displacement, and enhancing urban infrastructure.

The Global Urban Resilience Forum in Dubai marked a pivotal milestone in the global effort to address climate challenges in urban areas. It highlighted the importance of local leadership, collaboration, and innovation in building resilient cities capable of withstanding the growing threats of climate change.

The knowledge shared, the commitments made, and the strategies forged serve as a call to action. The real work commences today as a commitment to action and implementation emerges, further enhancing urban resilience for the betterment of our cities and generations to come.

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