UNDRR, UNOSSC, and PAHO/WHO support capacity development for resilient cities and risk-informed communities
Since September, more than 2500 participants from close to 150 countries and territories, with almost equal gender participation, have joined a certified online training workshop focusing on making cities resilient, jointly organized by the United Nations Officer for Disaster and Risk Reduction (UNDRR) Global Education and Training Institute (GETI), the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC), and Pan American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO).
“We must share knowledge and lessons learned from this pandemic and make our cities and communities more resilient to disasters and public health crises.” said Dr. Xiaojun Grace Wang, Deputy Director of the UNOSSC in the final session on sharing cities' experience and good practices on reopening and adjusting public health measures in response to COVID-19.
This webinar brought together representatives from national health authorities and local governments, as well as technical experts from PAHO/WHO and UNDRR, to share the experiences, good practices, measures adopted in their cities and local context.
Dr. Gerry Eijkemans, Chief of the Health Promotion and Social Determinants Unit, PAHO/WHO also stressed on importance of response of cities to COVID-19 especially for vulnerable people and shared factors to be considered in high density cities in developing countries.
Dr. Zunyou Wu, Chief Epidemiologist of the China CDC shared China's responses to COVID‐19 outbreak and strategies for reopening, highlighting the case study of Beijing which experienced a spike in number of cases in June after the curve was flattened. He shared the step-by step approach adopted in Beijing in response to public health emergencies and COVID-19 pandemic, from the first diagnosis of infection case, collecting environment test samples, contract tracing, to testing and quarantine of those possibly infected. Further, he responded to the audience’s question on public health emergency perspective guidelines developed to help China better prepare for future pandemics.
Nazuk Kumar, Indian administration Service Officer, Sub Divisional Magistrate and Director Information Technology, Chandigarh, India provided comprehensive introduction of the city’s solutions and answered the audience’s questions on the role of private sectors and religious groups in the pandemic, such as community kitchens and home delivery of food and the impact of the pandemic on migrants and transportation.
Andree Uribe Montoya, Secretary of Health from the Municipality of Medellin, Colombia introduced city’s experience and shared that South-South cooperation is one of the most interesting development cooperation model because it occurs horizontally between countries and cities that share common features due to their geographical proximity, income level or culture; the sharing and mutual learning time about the pandemic management models was key to the city in months of greatest uncertainty for the city.
Stefania Pascut, Advisor to the Mayor of Udine, Italy and Healthy City Network Coordinator introduced Udine’s good practices in supporting physical, mental and social well-being during a pandemic, during which she accentuated the need for special attention to healthy lifestyles, contrast to loneliness, and depression, resilience, specific measures for schools, and care for younger children.
As we know COVID-19 has spread rapidly to every corner of the World. Since this pandemic began, there have been 35 million COVID-19 cases, with over 1 million deaths globally. Cities and local authorities who are at the forefront of combatting COVID-19, with continuous management of a wide range of public health operations, are undertaking measures to protect the most vulnerable populations, support local economies and ensure the continuity of public services. United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. António Guterres acknowledged that “Cities are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 crises” but he also highlighted that at present “we have an opportunity to reflect and reset how we live, interact and rebuild our cities”.
It is against this backdrop, the three agencies decided to join hands and launched online training workshop on “Making Cities Resilient: Developing and Implementing Local Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy to Respond to COVID-19 and to Better Prepare for the Future” to strengthen understanding on making cities resilient and to provide suite of tools to develop an evidence based local disaster risk reduction (DRR) planning with multi-stakeholder engagement and public health emergencies to better prepare cities for future. This training also familiarized local experts and government officials to South-South and triangular cooperation (SSTC) and its importance in disaster risk reduction, public health, and climate change adaptation agenda.
This “Making Cities Resilient” training spanned from 08 September to 06 October with five weekly sessions. Over 2500 participants registered from close to 150 countries with almost equal gender participation. In line with the aim of the training close to 40% of participants were from national and local governments, and close to 30% from Intergovernmental Organizations, civil society organizations and academia. Over 224 e-discussions took place among participants through an online workspace created for the course. According to the survey, close to 98% participants gained knowledge on SSTC, DRR and public health that that would be applicable to their work, close to 96% participants would like to collaborate with UNDRR, UNOSSC and PAHO for future activities, close to 97% participants found city perspective and the good practices presented useful and might consider to utilize the lessons and solutions shared.
The first session on 8 September focused on providing participants with an introduction to disaster risk Reduction (DRR) and the Sendai Framework and sharing SSTC trends and policies. While in the second session on September 15, focused on “The Role of Local government in response to COVID-19” where studies of cities were also shared, as well as response to COVID-19 especially for vulnerable people in cities. The third and fourth session, led by UNDRR dived into sharing toolkits, such as the Disaster Resilience Scorecard for Cities and Public Health System Resilience Scorecard Addendum and actual case examples of cities in risk reduction planning and implementation.
As a follow-up, to this training UNOSSC has launched an initiative under the framework of the its SSTC Cities Project, with support from UNDRR and PAHO, to prepare knowledge product with cities’ good practices and lessons learned in their COVID-19 responses for municipal and local policy makers and city-related practitioners. The purpose of this is to advance the global exchange of good practices and knowledge between local authorities and city experts on understanding the different nuances, challenges, solutions, innovative approaches, and sectoral strategies being undertaken at the city-level to respond to COVID-19.