Friday, May 20, 2011

Cities urgently need protection from disaster

United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction issues some noble sentiments following on the recent conference in Geneva about reducing vulnerabilities to disaster: After announcing last week that Geneva would take part in the United Nations "Making Cities Resilient" campaign, Pierre Maudet, the incoming Mayor of Geneva as of 1 June, said the city would share experiences with other local governments seeking to manage risk.

Mr. Maudet made that comment at a meeting convened by the United Nations secretariat for the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), attended by United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Asha Rose Migiro and nearly 30 mayors and local government officials.

In her statement to the group, Deputy Secretary-General Migiro said local governments played a crucial role in getting citizens prepared to face natural hazards: "As local officials, you are on the front lines. You cannot wait for national authorities to catch up. You have to act now."

Later, Ms. Migiro commended the Making Cities Resilient campaign for signing more than 600 local governments, but noted, "It was just a small fraction of the number of cities that we need on board. Already more than half the world’s population lives in urban areas. They urgently need protection."

At the Global Platform, the group of Mayors and local government officials agreed on a Mayors Statement, which was presented at the closing session of the 2011 Global Platform, where they announced their commitment to integrate disaster risk reduction and resilience building in planning, awareness raising and investment decisions for their respective cities. Among other things, they also agreed to work with the private sector to promote legal frameworks and proportionate budget increases aimed at strengthening capacities for resilience at the local government level through strategic spatial and territorial planning, land-use, and development programming….

A jet of water in Geneva, shot by Michel Bobillier aka athos99, Wikimedia Commons, Michel Bobillier aka athos99

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