ABU DHABI, 9 February, 2019 - "Think big, think bold. The opportunity is there. If you want it to shrink it will shrink. If you want it to be bigger it will be bigger… Let us build this campaign to have a lasting impact globally."
With those rousing words, the Executive Director of UN-Habitat, Maimunah Mohd Sharif urged partners in the ten-year old Making Cities Resilient (MCR) Campaign, meeting on Saturday at the World Urban Forum, to take MCR to another level during the Decade for Action called for by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres.
Ms.Sharif, a former mayor of Penang Island, Malaysia, and deeply familiar with urban risk including floods and tsunamis, gave the opening address on Saturday at a meeting of partners considering the shape of a successor initiative to the Campaign with the working title MCR2030.
She said that UN-Habitat was proud to have played a central role in the MCR Campaign since it got underway ten years ago and help it to grow to over 4,300 cities and towns.
Ms. Sharif said that local governments alone cannot tackle the problem of disaster risk but are part of an eco-system which includes national, regional and international actors. Success in building urban resilience required both vertical integration from national to local government level and horizontal integration with local partners.
MCR had helped to deliver strong policies at the local level and Ms. Sharif looked forward to an action-oriented agenda over the next ten years.
UNDRR chief Mami Mizutori had convened representatives from UN-Habitat, C40, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, UCLG - United Cities and Local Governments, the World Council on City Data, the World Bank Group and IFRC, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies on Saturday to discuss a draft proposal for MCR2030.
Ms. Mizutori said: "the next phase should be about moving from advocacy to a greater focus on implementation, so that cities tangibly and measurably improve their resilience to risk."
At the official opening today of the World Urban Forum, the UN Secretary-General said in a video message, that one in four urban residents is living in slum-like conditions while only half had convenient access to public transport.
Later in the day, the draft plan for Making Cities Resilient 2030 – MCR2030 – was presented publicly for the first time at a networking event by Sanjaya Bhatia, UNDRR representative, who posed the question “With the growing demand and depth of support by cities, what should the MCR Campaign successor look like?”
The plan proposes a road map to stimulate action and commitment at the local level to reduce disaster risk and adapt to climate change.
The scale of the challenge was spelled out by Sameh Wahba, World Bank Global Director, Disaster Risk Management, who said the World Bank predicts annualized disaster losses of US$314 billion by 2030 with some 77 million urban residents at risk of falling into poverty if no action is taken. He promised full support for the new initiative.
Leaders of two of the world’s strongest networks representing cities and local governments also pledged to continue their engagement with the new partnership and to mobilise their membership to take an appropriate part.
Gino Van Begin, ICLEI Secretary-General, advocated putting the climate emergency at the forefront of MCR2030 and ensuring that national governments are also engaged.
Mohamed Boussraoui, UCLG Director of Special Programmes, said that MCR2030 needed to bear in mind that not all cities are at the same level of resilience and that local governments were well placed to deliver a key target of the Sendai Framework, an increased number of local strategies for disaster risk reduction.
Lauren Sorkin, acting Executive Director, Global Resilient Cites Network, said the work of partnership for urban resilience is more urgent than ever and there is a need to accelerate action particularly in view of the climate emergency.
Leon Esteban, acting chief, Risk Reduction Unit, UN-Habitat, recalled the long
engagement of UN-Habitat in the Making Cities Resilient Campaign and said that this new initiative would be important for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including SDG11 which focusses on resilient cities and communities.
Following contributions and expressions of support from participants in the audience, Ms. Mizutori said that the proposal would be revised to take account of all inputs and it was hoped to formally launch MCR2030 before the end of the year as a positive contribution to the Decade of Action called for by the UN Secretary-General.