“Resilience is Expensive” says UN

We’ve all not argued for resilience measures that are just too much of luxury for our budgets.  But for those responsible for the safety of large populations, working out how expensive is too expensive is another matter.

It’s such a dilemma in fact, that the UN has written a paper on it.  It’s called the Making Cities Resilient Report 2012.    They’ve looked at how governments around the world have reduced disaster risk and come up with ideas on best practice and best value for money.

Cities are, effectively, large collections of people.  The structures may include their homes and workplaces but the infrastructure is what maintains life on a very real level.  Issues such as flooded roads, power outages, contamination levels, climate changes, economic challenges, waste issues and water scarcity aren’t necessarily limited to any particular area of the globe.  More than 50% of humans live in urban conurbations.

So, the UN asks, how do we build appropriate resilience into our cities?  Every city has differing needs based on a huge variety of factors, but the basic requirement to consider sustainable development is a constant whether the planners are in Leeds (UK), Arizona (US), Melbourne (Australia), Addis (Ethiopia) or Tokyo (Japan).  In their words:

“The question of resilience in the context of urban growth recognises that disaster risk reduction is not limited to preparedness and response, but is a key determinant for sustainable development. How cities grow – the strategic planning and design of spatial elements and their impact on the natural and built environments, the inclusion of the most vulnerable in urban planning — all dictate a city’s capacity to absorb and recover from disasters, including those driven by an extreme climate.”

Resilience planning, they argue, will only be possible where there is local political will, competence and ability – along with the financial resources to support it.  Without such commitment, nothing will change.

Sound familiar?   Those of us working in public service, private and commercial organisations may glean as much from the report as those working for national and local authorities.

Chapters include:

  • Enabling conditions for resilience
  • Key trends in resilience building in cities
  • How local governments are building resilience
  • Possible approaches to measuring resilience

There are also some interview questionnaire templates, in case you fancy compiling a report of your own…

Click to download:

making cities resilient - resilience is expensive say UN


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