1) The venue: Bangkok, Thailand
In the past five years, the Resilient Cities congress has drawn hundreds of participants in Bonn, Germany. This year, we are building on the success of the congress and bringing it to one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Asia – Bangkok, Thailand. Bangkok is home to many local and international organizations working on urban risk and resilience. The city has a rich experience in dealing with disasters, both natural and man-made and has in recent years become one of the leading actors in developing and implementing disaster risk reduction programs and initiatives.
2) The focus: Urban resilience in Asia
Asian cities are at risk. In addition to dealing with the rapid pace of urbanization, the cities are becoming more vulnerable to both natural and man-made disasters. The region is home to half of the world’s population and half of the world’s natural disasters. These challenges present an opportunity for cities to build on their capacities to innovate solutions for enhancing resilience, foster partnerships and create indelible impacts for the cities in the regions.
3) The timing: Linkage to the post-2015 disaster risk reduction framework
In less than a month, the world with convene in Sendai, Japan for the UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction where national governments will be discussing the post 2015 disaster risk reduction framework. The discussions and the decisions taken at the Resilient Cities congress will directly feed into the UN processes and will be presented at the Sendai conference. The congress offers congress participants a chance to contribute concretely to the shaping of the new agenda that will appropriately recognize, engage, and empower local governments.
4) The launches: new reports, toolkits and initiatives
Local governments need tools to effectively address the challenges of climate change. They also need to form networks where they can share best practices and learn from the experiences of like-minded cities. The Resilient Cities congress will see the launch of the extended ACCCRN network. The network aims to collectively improve the ability of the cities to withstand, to prepare for, and to recover from the projected impacts of climate change. It will also see the launch of a number of reports such as the ICLEI-ACCCRN toolkit which is targeted at city governments and their role in catalysing community building.
5) And lastly, the diversity of topics of participants.
The participants come from diverse regions, disciplines and backgrounds. Around 300 people from more than 30 countries over 100 cities are participating in high-level plenaries, technical sessions and bilateral meetings. They will talk about the key issues of financing mechanisms, green growth, regional cooperation, Urban Nexus, Climate Compatible Development, and the linkages to Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).