Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Small- and mid-sized cities particularly vulnerable

29.09.2016

A new study and article in Nature examine the vulnerability of urban areas to extreme events

Small and mid-size not mega cities are growing quickest and are highly vulnerable to extreme events and climate change – says a new study and paper in NATURE developed by an international team of researchers coordinated by Prof. Joern Birkmann (University of Stuttgart).


In the city of Semarang / Indonesia residents are fighting against rising sea levels and frequent flooding.

Jörn Birkmann

In the upcoming UN Conference on Cities (UN-Habitat III, 17-20 October 2016) rapidly growing small- and mid-sized cities in Africa and Asia that are highly susceptible to natural hazards need more attention, since these cities will decide about the success or failure of the New Urban Agenda.

At Habitat III around 170 countries will adopt the United Nations’ New Urban Agenda calling for governments to make cities more inclusive, sustainable and resilient. Small and medium-sized cities are particularly susceptible to natural hazards and climate change and often have limited capacities to build resilience.

Research and political attention in the past has often been given to the growth of mega-cities, but it will be the fast-growing small (populations of 0.3-0.5 million) and medium-sized (0.5 to 5 million) cities, especially in Africa and Asia where the success or failure of sustainable urban development will be decided.

Cities like Kampala in Uganda, Niamey in Niger and Chittagong in Bangladesh face a host of pressures that make them especially vulnerable to natural hazards. They are experiencing high relative rates of population growth while combating poverty, poor infrastructure and governance.

It is fitting that the UN Habitat III conference will be held from 17th to 20th October in Quito, Ecuador. In April, the city and nearby Portoviejo and Manta suffered an earthquake that killed more than 660 people and injured at least 10,000. Some 73,000 people were displaced to shelters, camps or host homes.

Over 700,000 people needed emergency assistance, such as safe drinking water, improved sanitation and hygiene kits. Three months on 11,000 people still lack basic services. Such devastation highlights how susceptible many cities are to natural hazards, from river and coastal flooding to drought, heat, storms, earthquakes, tsunamis and landslides.

Prof. Birkmann says: “In order to minimize human suffering, cities need to be able to anticipate, absorb, recover and learn quickly from adverse events. This requires clear priorities towards the most vulnerable and rapidly growing small- and medium-sized growing cities.“

The populations of medium and small cities around the world will rise by more than 32% (469 million people) between 2015 and 2030, compared with about 26% (203 million people) in large and megacities.
Despite these challenges and problems, strengthening the resilience of small and mid-sized cities offers opportunities. Smaller cities are easier to manage than megacities. Risk reduction and climate change strategies embedded now can expand as cities grow. And the coordination of and dialogues between different groups are more feasible in small cities.

To assess which countries have the highest urban vulnerability to natural hazards Prof. Joern Birkmann and Dr. Torsten Welle from the University of Stuttgart analysed the urban populations of 140 countries, including more than 1600 cities above 300,000 inhabitants. Based on a standard methodology (Welle et al. 2015), UN and World Bank data was used on urban populations, infrastructure and socio-economic indicators. In the absence of local data we used representative national data on insurance coverage, medical services and governance conditions.

The new study and comment in NATURE highlights the 15 countries where the most vulnerable urban population lives are: Afghanistan, Yemen, Haiti, Central African Republic, Niger, Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, Mauritania, Liberia, Pakistan, Mali, Iraq, Benin, Togo and Gambia.

Original publication:
Birkmann, Joern; Welle, Torsten, Solecki, William; Lawsa, Shuaib and Garschagen, Matthias (2016): Boost resilience of small and mid-sized cities, smaller settlements are growing faster than megacities — and they need more protection from extreme events, in: NATURE (vol. 537), pages 605-608
The Nature article and the supplement can be downloaded in online versions: http://nature.com/articles/doi:10.1038/537605a

More information:
Prof. Joern Birkmann, University of Stuttgart, Institute of Spatial and Regional Planning, Tel. ++ 49 (0)711 685-66333,
E-Mail joern.birkmann (at) ireus.uni-stuttgart.de

www.uni-stuttgart.de/ireus 

Andrea Mayer-Grenu | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores
07.12.2016 | Santa Fe Institute

nachricht Sea ice hit record lows in November
07.12.2016 | University of Colorado at Boulder

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Closing the carbon loop

08.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems

08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D

08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>