United Nations Deputy Secretary-General says cities 'urgently need protection' from disaster; local government action is crucial

Source(s): United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

Geneva, 20 May -- After announcing last week that Geneva would take part in the United Nations "Making Cities Resilient" campaign, Pierre Maudet, the incoming Mayor of Geneva as of 1 June, said the city would share experiences with other local governments seeking to manage risk.

Mr. Maudet made that comment at a meeting convened by the United Nations secretariat for the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), attended by United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Asha Rose Migiro and nearly 30 mayors and local government officials.

In her statement to the group, Deputy Secretary-General Migiro said local governments played a crucial role in getting citizens prepared to face natural hazards: "As local officials, you are on the front lines. You cannot wait for national authorities to catch up. You have to act now."

Later, Ms. Migiro commended the Making Cities Resilient campaign for signing more than 600 local governments, but noted, "It was just a small fraction of the number of cities that we need on board. Already more than half the world’s population lives in urban areas. They urgently need protection."

At the Global Platform, the group of Mayors and local government officials agreed on a Mayors Statement, which was presented at the closing session of the 2011 Global Platform, where they announced their commitment to integrate disaster risk reduction and resilience building in planning, awareness raising and investment decisions for their respective cities. Among other things, they also agreed to work with the private sector to promote legal frameworks and proportionate budget increases aimed at strengthening capacities for resilience at the local government level through strategic spatial and territorial planning, land-use, and development programming.

Also on 11 May, several cities joined the Making Cities Resilient campaign aside from Geneva, including: Aqaba, Jordan; Dakar, Senegal; Madrid, Spain; Nadi, Fiji; Portmore, Jamaica; Tevragh Zeina, Mauritania; and the State of Tyrol, Austria.

On the same day, eight cities were named "Role Model Cities" for the Making Cities Resilient campaign: Bhubaneswar, India; Chengdu, China; Mumbai, India; North Vancouver, Canada; Saint Louis, Senegal; Santa Fe, Argentina; Santa Tecla, El Salvador; and Venice, Italy. Campaign Role Models commit to actively share their experiences and knowledge with local governments participating in the campaign.

The Campaign identified a new Champion from the Caribbean, Keith Hinds, Mayor of Portmore, Jamaica, who pledged to promote the campaign goals and disaster risk reduction at local level in the Caribbean, and announced that Portmore would host the national campaign launch for Jamaica later in the year.

The meeting was presided by David Cadman, Vice Mayor of North Vancouver and President of ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability.

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