A2: “Feeling is Believing”

This post is part of our live blog series from the Resilient Cities 2015 congress. For more live blogs, please click here.

The message that stuck at this session for participatory governance and multi-stakeholder approaches for resilience building was: “feeling is believing”. We were given an insight into some practical work from four panelist stretching from klimatkvarter (”climate neighbourhood”) in Copenhagen to exposure dialogue methodology in Bangladesh.

From Bangladesh, Saleemul Huq (Director of ICCCAD and senior fellow at IIED) promoted a true ”bottom-up” approach, where an exchange of knowledge comes directly from the people with experience: the civil society. In a community-based adaptation (CBA) process the participants – officials with similar backgrounds but from different countries – get a three-day workshop that takes place right in the heart of the challenged communities, working directly with community members. The experience is then taken into account and discussed in groups over the following days.

A similar approach was taken in Riohacha, Colombia. Oscar Iván Galvis Mora, of the LCRD program and USAID, explained that due to lack of information and data, risk management and adaptation assessment have to rely on ”knowledge of the city”, through stories from people in the area.

We asked people who had been living in the area for many years ”What have changed?” and ”Did it used to rain like this?” Along with the scarce available data we could find climate stressors and create damage curves which points to vulnerable areas in the territory.  (Oscar Iván Galvis Mora)

The collected data gave stakeholders – city officials, businesses and the community – a focal point for action. The goal was then to get these focal points to overlap with each other and create incentives for strong resilience in the area.

There is of course the ongoing problem where social and economic dynamics get in the way of good plans. As for the climate neighbourhood action in Copenhagen, Dr Jan Rasmussen explained that they have taken a different approach to handling the cost burden between stakeholders. Owners of the areas that are to be used for the directing of surface water to the harbour can be one stakeholder, but the operation is paid for by all. It is all about figuring out the benefits, as he put it.

All panelists agreed on focusing on the benefits, being careful in mapping stakeholders and bringing forward the ”voices” of the citizens.

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