What integrated disaster and climate resilience means to cities

By Bryce Appleby, Human geographer, MSc Candidate at Universität Bonn / UNU-EHS – United Nations University of Environmental Risk and Human Security and communications volunteer at Resilient Cities 2017

Integration has long-since achieved buzzword status amongst resilience thinkers and planners. But what does integration exactly mean? How does it work in the context of disaster and climate resilience approaches for cities? Steve Gawler, Regional Director of ICLEI Oceania, posed these questions to the audience at the beginning of a busy session on the first day of Resilient Cities 2017. The session presented four different city approaches on how integration works to build resilience, based on practical experiences across multiple municipal levels, each bringing a unique focus to the topic.

Innovation matters for integration

Raffaella Gueze and Giovanni Fini from the Municipality of Bologna, Italy presented a fascinating vision of an Adaptive Bologna 2.0: With an aim of flood-proofing the city by 2025 through the LIFE RainBO project. The projects aims for improvement of knowledge, methods and tools to respond to new extreme weather events, such as flash flooding from intense, concentrated rains in the city. The RainBO project incorporates a fascinating new innovation – a “Rainlink” meteorological system that uses electro-magnetic microwaves from mobile phone signals to measure rainfall intensity across the city. This data is fed into the platform which features a planning support module and early warning system to prepare citizens of extreme flash flooding.

Inclusion of communities pays off

Almost 100 percent of the City of Guayan in the eastern Philippines, was destroyed when cyclone Hainan made landfall there in 2013. Harma Rademaker, Advocacy Expert Resilience from Coraid shard her experience of how community consultation was crucial in the first step of building back after the cyclone. In the recovery phase, participatory mapping was used in local communities to ask the questions – what was damaged and how did you cope? Each city has a unique story to tell with how the cyclone impacted them and this example of consultation helped to prioritise people’s immediate needs. The second phase – development, was then able to incorporate coastline protection, which was stressed by communities as essential for their livelihoods. Both stages utilized assessment, planning and action at multiple levels.

High level planning, with local level capacity building

Arief Gunwan, an Environmental Expert from the City Government of Banda Acheh, Indonesia explained the unique challenges of building resilience in the archipelagic region of Banda Acheh, which was devastated by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. The Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Master Plan structured the city into broad zones of reconstruction – in a high-level spatial planning attempt to shift permanent structures away from coast and towards the traditional city centre. This poses many challenges for coastal residents who have a strong attachment to the coastline. For communities that did build back on the coast, large vertical buildings that can withstand very strong earthquakes and tsunamis have been constructed, with capacity building for locals to utilize these in future disasters.

An Urban Nexus Approach

Tanjung Pinang, the fastest-growing city in western Indonesia is protected in an inner sea and safe from tsunamis, but is not immune to impacts of climate change with increasing unpredictable rainfall, typhoons and sea level rise. Heni Ariputranti, the Head of the Cities Infrastructure and Regional Development Division explained how an Urban Nexus Approach, which utilizes linkages and synergies between different stakeholders, sectors and technical domains, was crucial to achieving integrated community resilience. In this example, a vulnerability and resilience assessment was completed for the city, which combined the wide-ranging areas of food security, energy security, clean water, solid waste, waste water solutions. An Urban Nexus Taskforce was also noted as important for communication between these wide array of spatial plans, action teams and waste management agencies.

The contents of this article reflect the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability.

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