C40 Voices: Mandy Ikert, Director of Water and Adaptation

The city of Rotterdam recently hosted a workshop on Climate Adaptation and Risk Assessment that brought together 23 C40 cities from around the world. The four-day event convened members of both the Connecting Delta Cities (CDC) network, of which Rotterdam is chair, and the newly-launched Risk Assessment Network.

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The participating cities — representing over one-third of the C40 — engaged in lively and fruitful discussions on topics such as grey vs. green vs. blue 'adaptation' infrastructure; adaptation strategy planning and implementation; risk assessment tools, approaches, and methodologies; and ways to continuously evolve our networks to best serve city participants.

CDC member cities, and cities interested in learning from their experiences, met on the first day of the workshop. We heard from New Orleans, Hong Kong, Copenhagen, London, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta, Rotterdam, and from other delta cities including Mumbai, Dhaka, Changwon, and Shanghai during breakout sessions. Participants were treated to site visits via walking, tuk tuk, and boat to directly observe how host city Rotterdam has incorporated water and flood management strategies into urban design and port infrastructure projects.

The second day started with a closed meeting of the 'founding fathers' of the CDC network, to determine the next steps for the network and discuss how they would relate to other networks within the C40 Water and Adaptation Initiative. We then moved to a convening of the Risk Assessment Network, where additional non-delta cities were invited to join. We heard about risk assessment approaches and methodologies used by various cities, including Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, Melbourne, and New York, and discussed how these approaches resonated with other cities. A public afternoon event at Rotterdam's Floating Pavilion focused on how three C40 cities — New York, New Orleans, and Melbourne — have responded to become more resilient in the aftermath of extreme weather events.

The third day started with a panel on property insurance and risk modeling for municipalities, led by our partners Allied Insurance together with risk modeling company Risk Management Solutions (RMS) and Professor Jeroen Aerts of the Institute of Environmental Studies at VU University Amsterdam. The day concluded with city perspectives on how to shape the Risk Assessment Framework that C40 Chair New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced at the mid-year meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative last month in New York.

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Speaking as a first-time C40 workshop participant, Sao Paulo Geological Hazard Manager Rodrigo Nery Costa said that "all conversations were so interesting and fruitful" and that he has now started "working hard on a proposal to change the framework for a new approach to climate change in our city, thanks to the interactions and ideas exchanged with everyone during the workshop."

Arata Ichihashi, Chief of the Urban Environment and Climate Change Division and Coordinating Supervisor for Policy Planning in Tokyo's Bureau of Environment, said, "I took away many ideas from the conference and fellow participants, and the PowerPoint presentations are very helpful for me."

Several cities found that hearing the approaches of other cities confirmed what they needed to do to bring their risk management to the next level.

Many thanks to Rotterdam and all of the participating cities for making this such a productive event!

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