UNISDR welcomes new urban resilience collaboration

Medellin, 11 April 2014: UNISDR Chief Margareta Wahlström today welcomed the creation of a new collaboration between nine key players in the global effort to build urban resilience to disasters and to strengthen the social, economic and environmental fabric of the world’s urban spaces.

Ms. Wahlström said: “There has been a tremendous outpouring of support for urban resilience in recent years. This new collaboration represents a consolidation of those efforts as we prepare for an explosion of urbanization in the 21st century, when more urban space will be created than at any time in history. Over half the world’s population now lives in urban areas and this will grow dramatically in the coming generation. We must prepare for it.”

By 2030, there will be nearly five billion urban dwellers, representing 60 per cent of the world population. There are also some 1 billion people living in informal settlements without adequate access to healthcare, clean water and sanitation, and in locations exposed to hurricanes, cyclones, flooding, earthquake, epidemics, as well as crime, and other man-made threats, including serious risks from catastrophic climate change.

UN-Habitat Executive Director, Dr Joan Clos, said: “ It is with pleasure I welcome the formation of this collaboration. Each of the institutions in this group brings both unique and shared expertise. Individually, we have accomplished much; together, we offer far more through our collective support to local governments in building resilience in all cities in the world."

In an announcement today, the final day of the 7th World Urban Forum in Medellin, Colombia, the following organizations expressed their commitment to work closely on urban resilience: the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat); the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR); The World Bank Group; the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR); the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB); the Rockefeller Foundation; the 100 Resilient Cities Centennial Challenge Programme, pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation; the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group; and ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability.

Collectively, these organizations work in over 2,000 cities globally, with over $2 billion of existing funds committed annually toward advancing resilient and sustainable urban growth and development. Their goal is to facilitate the flow of knowledge and financial resources necessary to help cities become more resilient to disruptions related to climate change, natural hazards, and other systemic shocks and stresses, including the socio-economic challenges associated with the rapid urbanization.

Sameh Wahba, Acting Director of the World Bank's Urban Development and Resilience Department, said: "The World Bank commits over $2 billion a year to support urban resilience in developing countries. This collaboration across organizations is a significant step towards facilitating the flow of additional financing to cities and ultimately ensuring that shocks to the urban system don't undermine decades of economic growth and prosperity."

Vicente Fretes Cibils, Chief of Fiscal and Municipal Management Division at the IDB, said: “The IDB is proud to be part of such as important [collaboration] with these global institutions in the sector. The IDB’s Urban Development and Housing strategy aims to promote environmental conservation, the management of urban natural resources, and adaptation to climate change. Our main objective is to make cities more resilient with interventions that have a positive impact on the largest number of poor households.”

Dr. Judith Rodin, President of The Rockefeller Foundation, said: “Building resilience is a priority for cities everywhere so that they are prepared for the shocks and stresses we know they will face.”

Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities - Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation, said: "This collaboration will ensure that cities have access to the most powerful financial and technical tools to deal with shocks and stresses, and is directly in line with our goal of having best practices shared across the globe."

Francis Ghesquiere, Head, GFDRR Secretariat, said: “We and other partners are committing to provide cities with the support they need to improve urban planning, investment, and become more resilient."

Eduardo Paes, Mayor of Rio De Janeiro and the Chair of C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, said: “C40 is committed to helping cities increase their climate resiliency through effective climate change adaptation and mitigation actions. We are pleased to be participating in this collaboration.”

Gino Van Begin, Secretary-General of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, said: “The global initiative announced in Medellin is fully in line with ICLEI´s “Resilient City Agenda” which aims to support cities to reduce their vulnerability by building on their capacity to respond to climate change challenges, disasters and economic shocks.

Deputy Mayor of Barcelona, Antonio Vives, said: "It’s great news that the global alliance to make all the cities around the world more resilient grows. The resilient city model that Barcelona represents serves as an example in many other cities of what best practices are in urban development, sustainable urban planning and in the management of shocks and stresses.”

*(l. to r.) Michael Berkowitz (100 Resilient Cities programme), Joan Clos (UN-Habitat), Margareta Wahlström (UNISDR), Judith Rodin (Rockefeller Foundation), Stephen Hammer (World Bank), Kathryn vines (C40 Cities), Cathy Lynch (World Bank), Jay Newman (GFDRR), and Jesus Navarette (IDB)

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