Research Spotlight: Katie Vines, Head, Adaptation Research – cities emphasized in new framework for disaster risk reduction at Sendai

At the recent World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, C40 presented the City Climate Hazard Taxonomy to initiate the public comment period.  The conference brought together over 6,000 delegates from around the world to agree a post-2015 international framework for disaster risk reduction, and share their experiences and challenges of building the resilience of nations and communities to disasters.

The City Climate Hazard Taxonomy establishes a clear and concise lexicon of the climate hazards that cities face today, and documents how those hazards may change in the future, creating a common language for cities to discuss climate change adaptation, therefore enabling collaboration between cities facing similar hazards.

In addition to the release of the C40 Taxonomy, a range of other city-focused resources, initiatives and frameworks were announced at the event. The Sendai gathering adopted a new international framework for disaster risk management– and cities were front and center.   The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015 - 2030 updates the Hyogo Framework to better integrate climate change and human development, and explicitly acknowledges the key role of local governments. For example, implementation of the framework will include nations reporting on the disaster risk reduction activities occurring at a local level.

To support these requirements, The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) launched an online course developed in collaboration with United Nations Institute for Training and Research: "Urban Risk Reduction: Developing and Implementing Resilience Action Plans for Cities". UNISDR also issued a call for partnership with governments and the private sector with them to help develop Resilient Cities Connect, an online platform for promoting and sharing innovations, technologies and services between governments, the private sector and development sector.

In addition, The Sendai Framework will be reflected in UNISDR’s Making Cities Resilient campaign. Based on the newly adopted Framework, UNISDR is revising the 10 Essentials for Disaster Risk Reduction for local government and developing indicators to track achievement of each of the 10 Essentials. The C40 research team is represented on the Expert Group, which supports this work.  As such, C40 will be working with UNISDR to design the new indicators and create alignment with C40’s Taxonomy and frameworks, and reporting requirements.

The Sendai event showcased the progressive, meaningful work throughout the world to manage climate change risk.  Impressive city projects already underway included Rio de Janeiro’s efforts to reduce disaster risks through their Carioca Living Program.  The program engages with some of the most vulnerable populations to upgrade infrastructure and provides training to reduce disaster risk and increase sustainability.  Concrete tools such as C40’s Taxonomy and international and inter-organizational collaboration show strong momentum in tackling the issue of climate resilience.  The commitment of cities to ensure the health, wellbeing and economic opportunities of urban citizens in the face of changing climate hazards will be bolstered by the Sendai outcomes and we look forward to seeing international cooperation continue to grow on the road to Paris and beyond.