WYN @ Habitat III

The role of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) for building resilience in urban settings

On the morning of October 15, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development kicked off with the Children and Youth Assembly (C&YA), organized by the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth (UNMGCY). The WYN partnered UNMGCY as a co-organizer of the C&YA. Together with TERI- The Energy and Resources Institute from India, WYN organized a session entitled The role of Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for building resilience in urban settings.

The New Urban Agenda is accounting for the importance of mitigating disasters and climate change effects in urban areas. The recent trends showcase that climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction in urban areas are not an option, but a necessity in realizing a vision of resilient cities. Hence, as a part of the Science, Technology and Innovation Stream of the C&YA, the session was discussing the role of DRR and CCA as pathways to creating resilient urban future. The session kicked off with a key note speech from Maria Irantzu Serra- Lassa, DRR specialist from Habitat for Humanity International. Mrs Serra- Lassa discussed the challenges and opportunities for achieving disaster responsive and climate resilient cities. Emphasizing the multidimensional nature of the problem, Mrs Serra- Lassa defined challenges of socioeconomic nature, geographical exposure and poor governance systems as key factors that are hindering achievement of urban resilience. An opportunity for mainstreaming DRR and CCA comes from the existence of global agendas (Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, Paris Climate Agreement and New Urban Agenda). Lastly, Mrs Serra- Lassa stated that young people are a major resource for DRR and CCA in urban settings. For this, she provided examples of youth led actions across South East Asia.

HIII(3)Mrs Serra- Lassa provided a stage for participants to discuss the role of DRR and CCA in three aspects: i) urban governance, ii) spatial planning and urban design and iii) Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The fruitful roundtable discussion that followed resulted in a range of different perspectives and experiences. The participants, coming from different geographical and professional contexts, shared experiences from their own regions.

There were several key messages that emerged from the session. Firstly, the three different aspects discussed are interlinked and if an idea of resilient cities is to be achieved, there is a need for an integrated and cross- sectoral approach, led from the all levels of governance. Secondly, spatial planning and urban design present an opportunity to create cities that will be able to ‘bounce back’ and withstand effects of disasters and negative effects of climate change. Good spatial plans and multi- purpose design are an instrument to achieve ambitious targets set by the New Urban Agenda and serve as a venue to innovate. Thirdly, urban governance is a main enabler for DRR and CCA. For instance, the participants discussed that even in the case we have spatial plans that integrate DRR and CCA, if there are no governance mechanisms that will follow up, there will be no change in the status quo, and risks will only continue to accumulate. Finally, we live in a technologically advanced era and the availability of ICT solutions is on the increase. Young people, due to their ICT knowledge, are a key actor in harnessing the power of ICT for DRR and CCA in urban areas. The participants shared examples from Indonesia and Mexico, where young people started initiatives with using social networks in mapping disaster events and raising awareness.

The C&Y A was a culmination of the WYN contribution to the HABITATIII Process. As a reminder, organized two youth consultations (October 2015 and January 2016) and submitted the Youth Position Statement on Water in NUA (April 2016). In addition to the DRR ånd CCA session, the WYN representatives in Quito will be panelists for the Children and Youth Roundtable and for the IHS Rotterdam Alumni award.