Resilience Hubs in action: Cities leading the way

More than twenty cities worldwide are recognized as Resilience Hubs, a certification given to cities when they achieve a high level of resilience. Explore the latest initiatives from Bonn, Germany, and the recent addition to this network, Venice, Italy, as they embark on their journey toward an inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable urban landscape.


Aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 11 (SDG11) — “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable”— the Making Cities Resilience 2030 (MCR2030) is a cross-stakeholder global initiative that engages a network of 1,645 cities spanning 85 countries. Launched during the inaugural ICLEI-led Daring Cities forum four years ago, MCR2030 collaborates closely with twelve core strategic partners such as the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), UN-Habitat, and ICLEI.

The initiative grants the Resilience Hub certification to cities with proven track records in disaster risk reduction and resilience. Resilience Hubs are pivotal in fostering knowledge sharing, enhancing capacity, and providing valuable learning opportunities. Their exemplary practices should inspire other local governments, encouraging them to commit steadfastly to bolster resilience efforts.


Bonn’s citizen-centric resilience building

 “To build a climate future, we need all hands on. We recognize that this is a two-sided medal, with scientific advancements on one side and the commitment of citizens on the other. Without their engagement, achieving ambitious climate goals is impossible,” says Mayor Katja Dörner, ICLEI Global Executive Committee Member.

This commitment is evident in the Bonn4Future Plan, the city’s most extensive participation initiative. Over two years, more than 320 randomly selected citizens, stakeholders, and city experts actively contributed through special climate days, forums, and a digital sustainability platform.

The outcome? The Climate Action Plan of the Citizens, which is now being integrated into the Bonn Climate Plan 2035, aiming for climate neutrality by 2035. This master plan envisions a smartly designed city that provides freshness and shade when it is hot, absorbs the water when it rains, promotes sustainable transportation like biking, and focuses on energy-efficient buildings.

“The challenge today is to balance the interest in using the same space. Should it be used for a tree or parking lot? Should it provide space for bicycles or pedestrians? Such transitions will not work without people owning it and caring for the space we all inhabit,” concludes Mayor Dörner.


Venice’s high-level resilience engineering

In Venice, people are no strangers to flooding, but the rising sea level has intensified high-water events, rendering the city’s streets inaccessible. During such events, residents evacuate ground-level apartments to escape potential property damage.

The MOSE project, short for Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico (Experimental Electromechanical Module), is a multibillion-euro infrastructure initiative centered on remote-controlled gates designed to elevate when required, effectively preventing high tides from inundating the Venetian Lagoon.

The project involves extensive engineering interventions like four mobile barriers strategically placed at the lagoon’s three inlets. These watertight gates are capable of rising to the surface by expelling compressed air, effectively sealing the inlets during high-water events.

 Alessandro Costa, Director General of the Venice Sustainability Foundation, the institution spearheading the project on behalf of the city, emphasizes, “This marks a groundbreaking engineering initiative geared toward safeguarding Venice’s cultural and historical legacy. By integrating innovative solutions and a steadfast commitment to environmental sustainability, cities can effectively confront climate challenges, providing optimism for the resilient future of urban landscapes.”

This blog was written based on the session “Strengthening urban disaster resilience for a changing climate,” organized by MCR2030 and ICLEI. Watch the webcast here.

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